Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Tale of Banita Jacks: Another Unsupported Black Mother Cracks & Commits Filicide

Reading about Benita Jacks I can't help but think of Andrea Yates, but the class and race implications are wholly different. Still I always had a certain amount of sympathy for Yates, who was clearly mentally ill and should not have been left alone to care for her children. Further I was always suspicious of her ex-husband for being so intentionally oblivious to the pressure his wife was under. Some may dispute that of course but I found it odd that he never noticed any signs of deterioration in his wife and thought it was okay for one woman to care for 5 small children the majority of the time. Simply being a paycheck daddy isn't enough.

In this latest case, it was an un/never married mother of 4 who claimed her children were possessed by demons and killed them. She was found guilty of murder earlier today and while I think some legal remedy applies, it should not rest solely with her. This was clearly a case of a woman on the edge left to fend for herself. She had to sue the men who'd fathered these children for child support. So the question begs: where were the daddies? Why weren't they taking care of their children? She'd had her home foreclosed on and had lost her job. Who was helping her - or was she expected to suffer in silence being the "strong black woman"? Clearly Ms. Jacks may have made some poor choices but it goes hand in hand with the choice of those "sperm donors" to use her for sex and abandon their children. It makes a volatile cocktail with deadly results.
One of the country’s leading experts on filicide, forensic psychiatrist Phillip Resnick, M.D., has developed a classification for this type of killing based on the parent’s motive.Resnick defines five types of filicide. In "altruistic" filicide a parent—almost always a mother in this category—kills her child or children as an extension of a suicide attempt. "These mothers see their children as an extension of themselves," he said. "They do not want to leave a child motherless in a ‘cruel’ world as seen through their depressed eyes."

In a second type of altruistic filicide a child is killed to end his or her real or imagined suffering. "These mothers may project their own unacceptable symptoms onto the child," he said.

In "acutely psychotic" filicide, hallucinations, epilepsy, or delirium drive a parent to kill a child. Psychiatrist evaluators will not find a "comprehensible motive" in this type of killing, Resnick said.

His third category involves "unwanted child" filicide, which includes homicides in which a parent no longer wants the child.
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American Psychiatric Association
It took more than two weeks before anyone noticed these school-age children were missing. While some may tsk tsk and make grand statements about the working or underclass I see this as a trend that will continue to emerge. If it's not about them getting shot for not accepting a date or the new boyfriend killing the child from a former relationship, a celebrity rap artist getting busted for hiding assets to short change his pregnant ex-wife, denigrating music being lifted up as "art" or the Surgeon General nominee being ridiculed for her weight, many black women and girls are going to continue being treated like the dregs of this society.

It is imperative that those who see the writing on the wall to quickly take whatever steps needed to free themselves from a low quality life. This is why propaganda organizations like Raising Him Alone and others of their ilk are so dangerous. They don't do anything to resolve the core problems and are attempting to put a cork over a dam break. We have no idea if the Obama health care plan will pass or what the state of the economy will be. We must be prepared. Everyone will not be saved but you can save yourself.

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Unknown said...

when i heard this story all i could do is cry. but that was my first question: where is the father?

It's crazy because i know someone going through something like this right now. it's tough. we help out as much as we can. Even our babies give a helping hand (which makes me cry as well - tears of joy).

Yet this is the tip of the iceberg.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Brother OMi: I believe there were at least 2 sperm donors not involved, possibly 3. Which is the point of course. No one is around to protect the children and if they're part of the working or underclass they are going to be in serious trouble. Mayor Fenty is trying to piece together what local agencies had contact with Banita Jacks and how they failed her. Perhaps in the future they might be able to snatch a few people from the jaws of destruction before it's too late. I don't think that's gonna happen though. Not without a change in behavior on the part of black women staying away from these no quality men.


What to say? What to say? There is this idea that black women are sitting at home waiting for a welfare check. That is so far from the truth, it's pathetic. The application process for most "aid" is so much torture that it's easier to get accepted to Harvard.

In almost any homeless or domestic violence shelter I've been in, the women work. Usually, the only time they move to apply for aid or child support is when the facility or state requires it. In my state if you apply for ANYTHING, it is mandatory that the other parent is first contacted & a demand for support made.

Many are afraid to apply because they don't want to be found for safety reasons. Others are degraded by the process and avoid it.

Shelters are not free (another misconception); rent is paid, usually on a sliding scale.

The thing I see affecting women most in shelters, other than violence, is STRESS (manifesting in mild to serious mental illness). These illnesses can be so debilitating that they can't sit down and do the paperwork to apply for assistance or do the things necessary to get themselves straight or care for their children. When I nag them long enough, they will eventually break down and admit that they simply "can't do it" anymore.

It is not pleasant to watch a mother try to literally give you her child as you try to convince her that SHE CAN DO IT!

But, what do I know?

I've never had to decide if I should keep the job at the fast food chain that brings in $700.00 a month for me & three kids or quit the job and go on public assistance while i live in my car.

I've never had a state tell me (letter came shortly after this client died) that though I had breast cancer which had spread from brain to bone, that I do not qualify for assistance, & further, the state health insurance for the children is increasing from approx $700 to $1,000, leaving me with $300 from my disability check for me and three children.

On that last client, the kids were rescued & we got them placed in another state days before her death. She worked like a dog all her life. She took her nursing boards weeks before her death even though she could barely keep her eyes open. She'd walk to chemo with her two little ones helping her along the way (Oh, I'm still pissed & crying). She had approximately $50.00 left in her shelter account. SHE NEVER GAVE UP ON HERSELF OR HER KIDS, BUT EVERYONE GAVE UP ON HER. I'm still pissed over this client, & that was 2005.

Oh, there is hell to pay over the way we treat our women and children.