Tuesday, April 03, 2012

For Anna Brown, who died on the floor of a police cell…


Confession - I’ve been struggling with feelings of disgust, frustration, and rage.

I’m doing some inner work.

And no, this rage is not the same as my daily indulgence of anger.

For every public display of wretchedness…there is often an answering demonstration of decency.

Usually that helps me stay balanced.

Usually…

…but not lately.

Lately, I’ve been struggling against hate and losing the hell out of the battle.


The rage comes when I see a news update on the model from Texas who lost her eye and hand in a freak plane accident…and the news anchors offer up those soothing sounds and enthusiastic statements about her recovery…and when the rage eases it is replaced by hate.


Hate because a woman in my home town was arrested for refusing to leave St. Mary’s hospital…and she died in a cell from the condition that hospital neglected to identify or refused to treat due to her being a poor black woman living in this rich white man’s world…and Good Morning America could give a shit about her…most people could give a shit about her…but I can’t stop mourning Anna Brown any more than I can stop the rage or the feelings of hate that replace it.


But it is a given that we all give a shit about Lauren Scruggs...and I want to be the type of person who does too…but instead I’m sitting here struggling not to hate her for being lovable, worthy or care and concern.

I’m struggling not to dismiss Lauren’s struggle just because the media celebrates her even as they ignore stories about women of color…stories about our struggle or our disappearance or our achievement…


…or our death by medical neglect in a Catholic hospital that then has the gall to hold up heath care disparities as a excuse for a patient’s death in police custody…a patient the hospital had arrested for seeking health care...and health care disparities Catholic hospitals gleefully seek to perpetuate through the relentless anti health care reform advocacy of the Bishops.

And until Anna Brown’s life has value…until Anna Brown’s death on the floor of a police cell gets the same coverage as the tragic maiming of an unknown model from Texas…

…until the murder of an unarmed black teen inspires the same media coverage as the murder of an unarmed white teen.

Until then, I’ll be doing a lot of inner work and struggling against hate.


Until justice.


Until peace.


Until.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ms. Fu, I'm not a native to STL, but I am so sad about this story I don't know what to do. What can someone in CA do? I did my weenie little contribution of submitting this story to the Huffington Post....

Pamela Merritt said...

Thank you, Anonymous.

We need to get this story out there...and then we need to hold St. Mary's and the police accountable.

freebones said...

what did she die from? can you link me to any news writing at all on this?

Anonymous said...

In the same vien as your writing: Do you know the full story? You have a few facts, She was poor and she was black. I hate the police, but do yourself a favopur and get the full picture, anger does not see through frosted windows. I do hope you get the item posted futher and I wish you luck.

Pamela Merritt said...

Anonymous...

Right now, this is the whole story. St. Mary's and the police are both claiming no responsibility and that they did nothing wrong.

But a woman who was in their care is dead despite having sought treatment having died after she was arrested for having sought that treatment.

No one disputes what Anna Brown died of. Everyone disputes whether they should have done something to prevent her from dying from it.

The kind of curiosity that gets investigations started for some people seems not to apply here.

So we have to march and launch petitions and write blog posts and march some more and then launch that petition again and then write more posts and...

Yeah, I'm back at rage.

Lori S. said...

Dear Anonymous #2:

Anna Brown died of deep vein thrombosis that became a pulmonary embolism. In lay terms, a blood blot traveled from her legs to her lungs and stopper her breathing. The blood clots could have been caused by her sprained ankle. At 29 years old, Ms. Brown was on the young side for this to have happen, but it's not at all unheard of.

Pulmonary embolism caused by deep vein thrombosis can certainly happen quickly and without warning, and there's definitely a chance that presence of clots in her leg could have been missed on a routine but competently performed examination of her ankle.

But if you think that Anna Brown being black and homeless didn't factor into her quality of care or lack thereof, you don't know a lot about how the health care system works in this country.

We do not know right now if her death was preventable or not, if there was malpractice involved or not. There's only one way to find out, and that's by *not* sweeping it under the rug or allowing either the hospital or the police to do so for us.

Eric V. said...

While the "facts" may appear to present no wrongdoing, the underlying current is what calls everything into question. Until we can face the systemic evil that allows preference of one group over another, poor black women will suffer and die, and the national media will ignore it. Now, I've just made the sort of statement that puts folks on the defensive. But, there's only one way to cure things like systemic evil and white privilege - and that's for the preferred group (of which I'm a part) to see it for what it is - and call it wrong.

Pamela Merritt said...

Freebones - she died of blood clots that traveled from her legs to her lungs.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/homeless-woman-s-sprained-ankle-leads-to-her-death-in/article_ed640f3d-64a0-516c-88ff-fb770b5e9677.html

Theresa Ngantchie said...

Point blank Anna brown was treated like a dog. This is wrong on so many levels. I find myself crying over Anna Brown. I cry out to God, Lord only you know!! They need to be held accountable for her death.

Marker said...

I think I first read about Anna Brown on your blog - she has been on my mind as well since then. SO MUCH WRONGNESS.

Thank you for this post.

Anonymous said...

Your blog posting is so moving. I agree with all that you've stated--and I'm white, part of the privileged class. I know too well that had Ms. Brown been a white woman with money (as class is a second problematic factor here, in addition to the primary factor of race), she would have been tested and retested many times to find what was wrong with her. Instead, the assumption that she must be "drug seeking" was made based primarily on race and class. Yes, tests were run on her--but if a middle class white woman continued to claim, after all the testing was nonconclusive, that she was still in excruciating pain, further history and further testing would have been done. Instead, Ms. Brown was assumed to be a liar (an additional indignity, on top of the physical indignities she suffered) by both hospital personnel and police and was left to die on the floor in terrible agony. And when I say agony, I know what I'm talking about--my brother suffered the same condition Ms. Brown did and almost died. He said the pain when the blood clots moved to his lungs was unbearable. Justice for Anna. Justice for all in this racist and classist society who are prevented from living full and healthy lives by a system that deems them unworthy of concern. I will talk about this case to everyone I know.

Michelle said...

When I was telling my husband about this, my seven year old overheard and could see the injustice (he was sad and angry about it. His words were, "wow, that hospital is fucked up.")

It seems to me, if a family doesn't have running water or electricity, the answer is to give it to them. Yes GIVE. Imagine that. A nation full of "Christians" who GIVE TO THE POOR.

Taking the children because their parent(s) committed the crime of being poor is beyond my comprehension. One of the articles mentioned that Anna wasn't allowed to live with her children - and the wording made it sound like this was Anna's mom's decision. I highly doubt that. When children are taken, the state will not allowed them to live with their parents. The only crime Anna committed was being poor and black.

I am livid and my heart has a deep pang of sadness after reading this story. Your rage is understandable and necessary.