On The Vine: Just want to know something’s being done

·2 min read

Last year 543,018 people were reported missing in the United States. When the clock struck midnight Dec. 31, 2020, 89,637 people were still considered missing, according to the National Crime Information Center.

Roughly 31.5% of those still missing were Black.

There were 90,333 Black women who went missing in 2020. And that doesn’t even account for — or rather make a distinction for missing, murdered, and unreported cases of Black trans women.

This is not about Gabby Petito. I hesitated to even mention her name, but knew that you’d know to make the correlation. Watching the search for Gabby Petito unfold has been tragic. Her death is tragic. But so too is watching how the world dropped near everything to solve her mystery, because I cannot remember ever seeing the same for Tamika, Akia, Destini, Jade, and the list goes on.

Black people make up 13% of the U.S. population, but nearly one-third of all missing persons.

Missing American Indian individuals also make up a disproportionate amount of missing persons cases, representing 1% of the population and 2% (1,496) of active missing persons.

Around the block

A woman who helped train athletes at Park Hill South High School died of COVID-19. Students, teachers and staff are mourning her death
A woman who helped train athletes at Park Hill South High School died of COVID-19. Students, teachers and staff are mourning her death

Disturbing, racist petition prompts parents to call for accountability at this KC school

Last week, a petition generated by a student or students at Park Hill South High School made its way around the school and the district. The petition was a call to bring back slavery.

The Star’s Bill Lukitsch reports:

Kerrie Herren, principal of Park Hill South, shared a message with the student body on Friday, in which he described the racist statements as “unacceptable.” He said “the impact of these sentiments are being felt heavily within our school.”

Julie Stutterheim’s 15-year-old adopted daughter, who is Ethiopian, heard a vague announcement over the P.A. at LEAD Innovation Studio — another high school in the Park Hill school district — on Monday about the incident at Park Hill South. She was “really upset” when she learned what happened, Stutterheim said. She heard from a classmate that it was in reference to a petition about slavery.

The subject was a difficult one for her daughter to even raise, Stutterheim said.

“She said, ‘You know, you’re white, mom. So you don’t really know what this is like.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, you’re right,” Stutterheim said.

“And she just wanted to know that ... something was being done.”

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Jay-Z gestures while walking to his seat during the first half of Game 3 of basketball’s NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Jay-Z gestures while walking to his seat during the first half of Game 3 of basketball’s NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation files legal action seeking release of Kansas City, Kansas police documents

Team Roc, the criminal justice and philanthropy arm of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, this week sought legal action against the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department, pushing for the release of investigative files, personnel records and officer misconduct allegations.

In the filing Team Roc, said police officers have abused their authority, fabricated witness statements, planted evidence, concealed officer misconduct and solicited sexual favors from victims and witnesses.

Glenn Rice and Aarón Torres write for The Star:

“For decades, the KCKPD has failed to provide accountability for officer misconduct,” according to the petition. “And, thanks to the blue veil of silence and apparent failure to investigate serious allegations, little of it has come to light.”

The petition filed by Roc Nation references reporting done by The Star’s Melinda Henneberger in which a 45-year-old Natasha Hodge accused now-former KCKPD officer William Saunders of raping her in 1996. A KCKPD spokesman at the time said the rape was investigated in 1996, however, no charges were brought.

The petition alleges that department officials refused to provide them with complaints filed against members of the police department’s investigative division, reports or internal investigations against an officer who has a history of abuse allegations and policies relating to supervising detectives.

In a statement, KCKPD said they have released to the group hundreds of pages of documents under the Kansas Open Records Act with several exceptions. The state law does not require the release of personnel records and criminal investigation files, the department said.

Beyond the block

Betty Reid Soskin, a community outreach worker at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park, looks out at the water from a dry dock area where woman worked during the war on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2007 in Richmond, Calif. Soskin, 86, kept clerical records for the segregated union set up for black shipyard workers during World War II.
Betty Reid Soskin, a community outreach worker at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park, looks out at the water from a dry dock area where woman worked during the war on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2007 in Richmond, Calif. Soskin, 86, kept clerical records for the segregated union set up for black shipyard workers during World War II.

‘America’s Oldest Park Ranger’ Is Only Her Latest Chapter

Betty Reid Soskin turned 100 years old Wednesday. She serves as the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service at the Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front National Historical Park.

But, as Jennifer Schuessler writes for The New York Times, she is so much more:

Over the past decade and a half, she has become both an icon of the service and an unlikely celebrity, drawing overflow crowds to talks and a steady stream of media interviewers eager for the eloquent words of an indomitable 5 feet 3 inch great-grandmother once described by a colleague as “sort of like Bette Davis, Angela Davis and Yoda all rolled into one.”

She has been photographed by Annie Leibovitz, interviewed by Anderson Cooper and invited to the Obama White House (where she introduced the president at the Christmas tree lighting in 2015)...

Ms. Soskin’s life has had so many twists and turns it’s hard to keep them straight: She’s been a suburban mother, antiwar activist, musician, business owner, faculty wife, community advocate, political aide, blogger and, of course, park ranger. “I’ve always pushed out old stuff and made room for the new,” she said.

She was born Betty Charbonnet in Detroit in 1921. She spent her early years in New Orleans, where her close-knit family’s Creole and Cajun roots ran deep. In 1927, after their home was destroyed in the Great Mississippi Flood, the family moved to a racially mixed neighborhood in Oakland, Calif., where her father and uncles worked as waiters and Pullman porters, and lived in a tight-knit, socially conservative, devoutly Catholic Creole world.

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For the culture

U.S director, actor, screenwriter Melvin Van Peebles is seen during a tribute for his career at the 38th American Film Festival in Deauville, Normandy, France, Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. Van Peebles, a Broadway playwright, musician and movie director whose work ushered in the “blaxploitation” films of the 1970s, has died at age 89. His family said in a statement that Van Peebles died Tuesday night, Sept. 21, 2021, at his home.
U.S director, actor, screenwriter Melvin Van Peebles is seen during a tribute for his career at the 38th American Film Festival in Deauville, Normandy, France, Wednesday Sept. 5, 2012. Van Peebles, a Broadway playwright, musician and movie director whose work ushered in the “blaxploitation” films of the 1970s, has died at age 89. His family said in a statement that Van Peebles died Tuesday night, Sept. 21, 2021, at his home.

Melvin Van Peebles, Champion of New Black Cinema, Dies at 89

If you didn’t know, Melvin Van Peebles was an icon, guiding light and the godfather of Black cinema. I hate to deem anyone outright the originator, but when it comes to blaxploitation films, he was damn near that. Peebles died this week at the age of 89.

Douglas Martin writes for The New York Times:

A Renaissance man whose work spanned books, theater and music, Mr. Van Peebles is best known for his third feature film, “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song,” which drew mixed reviews when it was released in 1971, ignited intense debate and became a national hit. The hero, Sweetback, starred in a sex show at a brothel, and the movie sizzled with explosive violence, explicit sex and righteous antagonism toward the white power structure. It was dedicated to “all the Black brothers and sisters who have had enough of The Man.”

Mr. Van Peebles’s fiercely independent legacy can be seen in some of the most notable Black films of the past half-century, from Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” (1986) to Barry Jenkins’s “Moonlight” (2016). His death arrives at a moment when Black storytelling has belatedly become ascendant in Hollywood.

“I didn’t even know I had a legacy,” he told The New York Times in 2010, when asked about his reputation and influence. “I do what I want to do.”

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