Friday, April 14, 2017

What Happened to Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam?


There's been a lot in the news lately, of course. If there wasn't horror in the headlines every day then maybe we'd all be demanding a better and independent investigation into the supposed to suicide of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African American woman and the first Muslim to serve on New York State's highest court.

The investigation is still pending, but police have suggested that this was a suicide due to the fact that her brother committed suicide a few years back around the same time of year and because her job was stressful. I do not buy it.

She was the first black American woman to serve on her court during a time of rising white nationalism, anti-blackness, and misogynoir. During a time when white supremacists are traveling into cities just to find black people to murder.

She was the first Muslim to serve on her court during a time when Islamophobia is at an extreme high, when the President of the country is trying to ban all Muslims from entering the country while he bombs the shit out of their's. When he dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb ever used on Afghanistan, most likely just to make himself look tough. When mosques all across the country are being targeted for racist graffiti, bomb threats, and arson.

And we're supposed to believe the police when they say that she decided to stop on her morning run and drown herself in a river?

I believe them like I believed the cops who said that Sandra Bland killed herself in custody. Which is to say I don't. And I fully believe that the cops would not want to pursue the case as a possible murder because the cops have always been a haven for white supremacists. In fact, some of the first police forces in this country were created specifically to keep black people in line.

It's important to keep in mind that black women do suffer from mental illness and suicidal ideation just like anyone else. And the stress of racism, whether overt or in the form of constant microaggressions, causes a high level of stress that absolutely affects their health and lowers their life expectancy. But unless her family says otherwise, I think we need to demand that real justice be done here. Don't just shrug this off. We need real answers. What happened to Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam?

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