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Fire Will Burn: A Lesson That Ella Made Sure Would Not Happen Again To Her Children

(Although this is a true story, the names were changed to protect the privacy of the innocent.)
It was early Sunday morning in the early 1960s. She sat there calmly in my bedroom. It was partially lit by a night lite. They had not seen me when they came in. I stood quietly in the corner across the room hidden by the bunk beds. Ms. Ella sat in the chair as the police officer squatted down to talk to her.
There was no fuss, no tears as she made her admission. She did not know what was ahead of her, but she certainly knew that what was behind her had brought her to this moment.

A red bone, Ms. Ella was a very attractive woman despite the traumatic life she had led as a wife and a mother of four. Ella was married to Eat Em Up Jackson. It was an odd combination, yet as you know from the Color Purple a very common one.

Eat Em Up Jackson was a simple man who managed his money well. A man of few words, he personified the saying you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. A very strong man in stature he wore suspenders, along with long johns, smoked a pipe and worked on his property when he wasn’t working at the post office. Know by his co-workers as Eat Em Up Jackson for eating out of a pale, Mr. Herman also had the reputation of never finishing any project he would start on his property including a garage he was building for his car. This of course brought on a confrontation between Herman and his next door neighbor an engineering professor and his wife a public health nurse. Cited over and over again with housing code violations, the city forced him to tear down a few of the projects including the garage.

Mr. Herman could not understand how anyone could tell him what to do with his property. That also included his wife and children. Appearing to be old enough to be her father, Mr. Herman treated both she and the children like property. This is where the law was on his side, and despite the comings and goings of patrol cars, he did not relent for one moment his controlling ways that included rules that were asinine rituals from slavery. These rituals ran afoul of the 1960s quest for freedom by all black Americans.

Mr. Herman required everyone to eat when he ate. He kept a lock and chain around the refrigerator and deep freezer. If the children did not rise to eat at 5 AM in the morning, they would not be able to eat again until he came home for lunch. He would take out enough from the refrigerator in the morning for her to prepare lunch. During his lunch stop, he would take out enough for her to prepare for dinner. This was the regiment to be followed day in and day out that she would endure reluctantly. During the summers, Ms. Ella and her children would eat breakfast at our house.

Mr. Herman controlled his money and never would allow money to be spent on anything he thought to be unnecessary in life. Maybe this is why the oldest child started stealing. Always driving a Cadillac, he was a man of means, but you would not know it by the way he treated his family. When all the kids had bicycles, yoyos, hoola hoops, roller skates etc., the Jackson kids could only watch from the sidelines.

Ms. Ella fought hard to protect her children. She had even fled Mr. Herman’s bondage. Without any marketable skills other than being a pretty female, she fell prey to another man who took her off to New York, and abandoned her with the child she bore for him. Returning from New York, there was no refuge with her parents. In their eyes, Ella was a married woman and belonged with her husband and children. With no say over her life, accordance to law and custom she returned to him with her son by another man.

Ironically, Ms. Ella, a woman of color could now eat at the Woolworth’s lunch counter and she could register to vote, but she could not get this man to treat as a human being.

Between the arguing and fighting, there was another son born as a result of this union. Disappointed with the status of the older son and daughter, Mr. Herman took matters into his own hands and decided to raise this child himself. First lesson: fire will burn. One morning as they arose for breakfast, Mr. Herman took the young child over to the hot stove and planted the child’s hands on the red hot eye. After he left for work, Ms. Ella in tears brought the crying child along with the other children to our house. The women in the neighborhood came together with some sort of homemade remedy by way of a salve to cover the child’s hands and calm him down. This rubbing compound was placed on the child’s hand throughout the day for days until the hands appeared to heal. Ms. Ella life would not be the same after this day. Perhaps this is when her own fire will burn plan started to come together which led her to my bedroom on that early cold winter’s morning.

On this particular evening, Ms. Ella had packed up clothing for the children. After dinner she had the children to retire for bed. Eat Em Up Herman went to bed and was thought to be fast asleep. She got up dressed herself and the children and got them out of the house. She dossed the sleeping quarters of the house with kerosene and struck a match. With the fire a blaze, she came out of the house and was crossing the street headed towards our house. My mother and another neighbor who worked the second shift saw the blaze. At first they thought the fire place had a nice fire that was to be appreciated on this cold night. They soon knew that it was a house fire when they saw Ms. Ella with the children. They, however did not know she had set the fire in an effort to show Eat Em Up That fire will burn. The fire department was called and the neighbors west of the burning house was evacuated from their home.

Eat Um Up escaped without harm. The firemen arrived immediately and extinguished the fire. The blaze left some damage but not enough to render the property unlivable.

The preliminary investigation revealed arson. Eat Em Up without hesitation agreed and pointed the finger at his wife. Ms. Ella was interviewed in my bedroom. During this time with no fuss she revealed Mr. Herman’s fire will burn lesson. That barbaric lesson had pushed her over the edge. Ella who admitted to setting the fire decided to set Herman’s asinine self on fire. The police officer nodded his head to reflect his understanding. Perhaps thinking that she had been through enough, he was very kind to her. The law certainly was not on her side, but instead on the side of a man who appeared to be insane. The officer would not cuff her in front of her children. They walked together out of the house and Ms. Ella was placed inside of the police car and taken away.

The three children remained with their father in the same prison like atmosphere. The other child went to live with his paternal grandmother while Ms. Ella served her prison term for arson. She would lose her privilege to vote and temporarily the custody of her kids.

While in prison Eat Em Up was granted a divorce and custody of the three children.

Upon leaving prison with some marketable job skills, Ms. Ella was finally free. Ella met a nice man who stood by her financially and emotionally as she fought and won back the custody of her children. They married, bought a nice home, and she for the first time had her own a car and true freedom from Eat Em Up’s abuse.

I would love to say that they all lived happily ever after, but the scars of abuse runs deep. The oldest son ended up in prison for bank robbery, and was serving his sentence as Ms. Ella was put to rest seventeen years later. The son born outside of the marriage overdosed on drugs a few years after Ms. Ella’s passing.

Eat Em Up Jackson never remarried. As the grandson of a slave, he continued working on his property and bumping heads with code enforcement and his next door neighbors. It was not that Eat Em Up was an evil man, he was just repeating what he had been taught from his ancestors who adopted the abuse from slavery.

Today some of these abusive rituals are still practiced in the Black community. It’s time to lay these rituals to rest and stop the abuse.

Also read Michael Eric Dyson’s New York Times Opinion: Punishment or Child Abuse?

Posted 1 month ago.

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Whitney Houston’s Untimely Death Shocks The World



Last evening, the night before the Grammy Awards, the music world became discombobulated after learning about the death of The Voice: Whitney Houston.

The 48 year old singer/actress/icon was reportedly found by her hairdresser submerged underwater in the bathtub. Houston’s bodyguard pulled her out of the water and attempted CPR until paramedics arrived, but apparently it was too late. Ms. Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 PM. The body was removed from the Beverly Hilton after midnight.

A law enforcement source reportedly told RadarOnline that the singer had “a plethora of sedatives including Lorazepam, Valium, Xanax, and a sleeping medication that was found in her hotel room.”

It appears that Houston’s death was not a suicide. “There were no obvious signs of criminal intent,” the Beverly Hills Police said in a statement.

An autopsy was scheduled for today. An official cause of death will be deferred until toxicology results are determined. That process could take weeks. Although it would be obvious if Houston drowned, it is still important to know whether there existed any contributing factors.

The remake of the film Sparkle, in which she plays Jordin Sparks’ mom, wrapped filming before the singer’s untimely death. The film’s producer, Bishop T.D Jakes, expressed his sadness through a statement upon hearing the news. The film is due to be released in August.

Above is an interview Whitney and Jordan Sparks gave to Entertainment Tonight (“ET”). Houston looks fantastic.

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    Posted 2 years, 8 months ago.

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    Minister’s Wife Murdered: Husband, Step Son and Their Shared Mistress Faces Capital Murder Charges

    Domestic violence knows no boundaries. It touches all regardless of your status in life. Pauletta Burleson, the wife of a minister is one of many victims. Unfortunately, Pauletta’s murder is scandalized by what is being described as a love triangle involving her minister husband, his son and the mistress the two men shared. The trio are now facing murder charges for Pauletta’s untimely demise.

    Tracy-Bernard Burleson

    Tracy Bernard Burleson, a 44-year-old Houston pastor, is facing capital murder charges for the 2010 slaying of his wife, Pauletta Burleson. According to ABC13 Houston’s local ABC affiliate, the pastor’s wife was shot execution style in the back of the head while sitting in the family’s garage, allegedly by her stepson, William Fuller.

    The Houston Chronicle is reporting that Fuller, who is also charged with murder, alleges his father hired him to commit the killing. This information is said to come from a confidential informant whom Fuller confided in.

    Further information seem to suggest that both the pastor and his son were in love with the same woman, 32-year-old Tyonne Palmer.

    Fuller had previously lived with Palmer, who became his care taker after he was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. According to court records, investigators have uncovered evidence indicating she was actually dating both Fuller and Burleson at the same time.

    Attorneys for Burleson are alleging that the son framed his father so he could date his father’s mistress, Tyonne Palmer who is also charged with capital murder. She’s accused of helping Fuller destroy the murder weapon following the shooting.

    The pastor’s alibi for the shooting isn’t air tight. While Burleson admits that he and his wife argued in their driveway, he claims he went to a convenience store for chips and candy before she was killed. However, investigators didn’t find any snacks in his car afterwards.

    Neighbors say they heard the gunshot at 10:15 p.m. — but the store where Burleson claims to have made his purchases closed at 10 p.m.

    The Houston Chronicle is als reporting that prosecutors have found a $60,000 life insurance policy taken out in Burleson’s wife’s name. Such evidence provides motive that which suggests the pastor’s involvement. It also elevates the crime of domestic violence to a capital crime, placing the death penalty on the table.

    On or about one week before the murder, Burleson’s house of worship, the First New Mount Calvary Baptist Church, burned down. Burleson has denied involvement in that incident. The fire is still being investigated and no charges have been filed against him in relation to it.
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      Posted 3 years ago.

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      Viola Davis Carries and Delivers The Help

      Last evening, I had the pleasure of seeing The Help in a movie theater in Greensboro, N.C. The Help pays tribute to the black domestic workers particularly those who worked during the civil rights era. This particular story takes place in Jackson Mississippi, a town that is known for arresting and jailing freedom riders and the murder of civil rights leader Medger Evers. In a nutshell the town of Jackson is and will always be known as a racist violent supporter of the unconstitutional Jim Crow laws.

      There of course were those whites who despised the Jim Crow way of life and would stand up to their racist associates. Such is the case in The Help. Sketter, an Ole Miss graduate who is not considered to be attractive comes back home after graduation and finds a job at the Jackson Journal giving cleaning advise to white female aristocracy. Because she was raised by the family’s black maid, she knows nothing about cleaning. While away at college, she is told that their black maid quit to go live with her daughter in Chicago, so she reaches out to a friend’s maid to solicit answers for her cleaning advice column. The maid played by Viola Davis has no choice in the matter and takes on this chore along with caring for a little girl whose mother never touches the child, cooking, washing the clothes, as well as cleaning the entire house.

      While getting the advice from the maid, Sketter decides to write a book about the help, especially after finding out that the maid (played by Cicely Tyson) she loved and adorned was fired. Sketter finds that the maids are reluctant to talking to her, however, after Medger Evers is murdered for registering blacks to vote and a maid is arrested and imprisoned, the maids change their mind.

      The story briefly touches on how these under paid women are cheated out of their social security contribution by employers who build separate bathrooms outside the home for the women to use. Showing that the scars of slavery run deep, it also touches on the domestic violence experienced by these women from their under paid over worked husbands who are treated less than human as well.

      What it doesn’t show is the domestic violence the children experience from the mothers who of course come from a long line of domestic workers dating back to slavery.

      Unlike The Secret Of Bees, the acting is superb. Nothing against Queen Latifah and Alicia Keyes, but these women were not able capture the era, thus rendering their performance dead on arrival. Perhaps they did such a poor job because they had nothing to tap into.

      Oscar nominated Viola Davis who turns 46 today (August 11, 2011) was born on her grandmother’s farm in St. Matthews, South Carolina. Although the two time Tony and Drama Desk award winner grew up in Rhode Island, it appears she was able to tap into her southern roots for this role.

      Considered as one of the best actors whether it be stage or screen, Ms. Davis carried this film on her shoulders and delivered. I can see not only another Oscar nomination, but I can envision Ms. Davis carrying the coveted statute home this time.

      The film is educational as well as entertaining. You will have tears in your eyes, but there are plenty of laughs as well, as the film shows how these hard working women survived the inhuman treatment by their employers whose ignoramus mentality resembles that on Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin.

      In this moronic political environment surrounding the first African American U.S. President, people regardless of color should run out in droves to see this picture. You won’t regret it. Also take look at the trailer above.

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        Posted 3 years, 2 months ago.

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        Oh No She Didn’t ! Woman Severs Husband’s Penis and…

        Remember Lorena Bobbitt? Lorena was the Ecuador born wife who severed her husband’s penis as he slept in 1993. Lorena now has company in the category of penis severing.

        Yes folks, it has happened again! By the way, this one tops the Bobbitt case.

        It appears that a dispute over an “inappropriate relationship” may be the motive behind a Garden Grove woman who has been charged with cutting off her husband’s penis.

        A law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity in the ongoing case said the couple had argued earlier in the day and that the wife was angry at the husband over a relationship. Police said that when they confronted the woman, she said her husband “deserved it.”

        Authorities had earlier alleged that the wife, Catherine Kieu Becker, got into an argument with her husband about “friends staying at the residence,” according to a statement by prosecutors.

        On Wednesday, Orange County prosecutors charged the wife with two felony counts for allegedly cutting off her husband’s penis and throwing it in a garbage disposal after drugging him and tying him to a bed.

        The couple who had been married for a year and half began divorce proceedings in May. The court record suggests that the husband initiated the divorce.

        Becker, 48, faces one felony count each of torture and aggravated mayhem with sentencing enhancements for great bodily injury and personal use of a knife. If convicted on all counts, she faces a maximum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

        She has been held without bail since her arrest Monday night. Her arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday in Westminster, where she is expected to plead not guilty.

        Becker, a real estate broker, lived with her husband, identified by prosecutors only as John Doe, in a Garden Grove apartment.

        The husband told police that his wife served him dinner and that he went to bed about 9 p.m. While he was sleeping, she “tied the victim’s legs and arms to the four corners of the bed with nylon ropes,” prosecutors said.

        The victim told authorities that when he woke up, his wife pulled down his pants, “grabbing the victim’s penis and severing it with a knife.” She then took the penis to the kitchen and threw it in the garbage disposal, “turning it on and mutilating the organ.”

        She then called 911. On arrival the officers who probably thought that they had seen everything, found penis-less John tied to a bed and bleeding from his crotch. Ouch!

        John Doe was taken to UCI Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery, but the severed mangled organ pulled from the garbage disposal could not be reattached.

        In addition to Lorena Bobbitt an Alaskan woman severed her boyfriend’s penis. In 2005, Kim Tran cut her boyfriend’s penis off and flushed it down the toilet. Authorities somehow managed to recover the member and reattach it. As you remember authorities searched a field to recover John Wayne Bobbitt’s penis. It was also reattached.

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          Posted 3 years, 3 months ago.

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