Make no mistake about it. Abortion bans will hurt poor people the most, as they don’t have the money to go where abortion is legal. So when abortion is made illegal in almost all cases, that means these poor women are forced to stay pregnant, even if they don’t have the ability to provide for a baby. People with money will be able to travel without help from someone else, so they can go somewhere else for private, compassionate, respectful medical care. But poor women are TRAPPED.
I know a lot of people would say something along the lines of the women should have thought about the abortion bans before they had unprotected sex (what a romantic thought). However, it’s not really that simple… as a lot of women have sex because they’ve been pressured, cajoled, or even coerced by a male partner, many of whom won’t wear a condom. Many of the same women can’t afford birth control for themselves.
Or the women are victims of rape or incest, or they have medical problems or economic issues that make abortion the best decision for them. WHY IN THE HELL IS IT ANYONE ELSE’S BUSINESS if they travel to get an abortion, or who pays for the travel? Aren’t Republicans the ones who scream the most about medical freedom?
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s incredibly creepy and gross that so many conservative white men are so interested in whether or not a woman is pregnant. Especially given how these same disgusting MEN don’t want to do fuck all to hold the MEN who get them pregnant accountable! And they don’t want to pay for any programs that will make pregnancy healthier and more affordable, and parenthood easier for these women.
Listen… I don’t cheer for abortion. I was the poster child for NOT having premarital sex. I actually waited for marriage before my first time. But the vast majority of people don’t do that, and WON’T consider doing it. We don’t have enough resources for the people who have already been born! And we have far too many people in jail, already… although not enough of them are MAGA Rethuglicans.
I have been trying not to write too much about the insane situation going on with US politics over the past ten years or so… I find it very scary and kind of unreal. But these people in power have clearly forgotten that the United States is supposed to be the “land of the free”. These disgusting invasions of privacy into the personal healthcare decisions of pregnant women are not what America is supposed to be about.
I don’t have to worry about ever needing an abortion, but I know there are so many young women who will find themselves in need… and not just because they were “careless”, but because they could die without one. We’ve just got to get the politicians out of our wombs. Otherwise, things are going to get much worse for anyone who isn’t wealthy enough to travel in secret. These assholes don’t care about the women or the babies who will be born into poverty and potentially abusive situations. They only care about money and power, and they are flexing their muscles against people who are least able to fight back. It’s absolutely SICKENING.
I’m glad to see that Mr. Marshall is rightfully being sued by the non-profit organizations that want to help women who need abortions and deserve privacy. I hope he gets his ass handed to him. I would encourage women to get the hell out of Alabama and move somewhere safer, where they aren’t regarded as second class citizens.
In other news…
I just learned that Jimmy Buffett, the great master of laid back beach music celebrating the Caribbean and Florida Keys, has passed away. I was not as big of a fan of his music as a lot of my friends were/are, but I do have an appreciation for his persona. And I have many great memories of listening to his music, especially when I was in college.
Alas, I will never have the chance to witness Parrothead mania at one of his concerts. But I still enjoy his live albums, and the festive mood they always bring… and I’m gratified to know that even though he spent a lot of time in Alabama, Mississippi, and of course, Florida, Mr. Buffett was not a Republican.
May he rest in eternal peace…
I also heard that Mohammed Al Fayed, father of Dodi Fayed– Princess Diana’s late boyfriend– has also passed away. He was 94 years old.
When I wrote yesterday’s post about Oliver Anthony’s popular anthem, I didn’t know much at all about him. I was simply reacting to the lyrics of “Rich Men North of Richmond.” Consequently, my post, based solely on my first reactions to his popular song, may not have been as accurate as it could have been. I have since learned more about Oliver Anthony, whose real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford.
According to Wikipedia— admittedly not always the best source for information– Oliver Anthony is between 29 and 31 years old. He comes from Farmville, Virginia, which is a town I know well. I went to college in Farmville, home of Longwood University (Longwood College when I went there). Anthony might have been born when I was still a college student in his hometown, a place where there is poverty and lots and lots of funeral homes. In all seriousness… I remember there were quite a few nursing homes and funeral homes in Farmville, when I lived there. Maybe that’s changed, though. Longwood has certainly changed a lot since my college days.
I read that Mr. Anthony dropped out of high school and later got a General Equivalency Diploma. He worked a lot of industrial jobs in Virginia and North Carolina. Farmville isn’t too far from the North Carolina border. Evidently, while working at a paper mill in North Carolina, Anthony suffered an accident that fractured his skull and left him unable to work for six months. He’s suffered from mental health issues and alcoholism. Much to my surprise, he claims to be “non-partisan”, saying “I sit pretty dead center down the aisle on politics and always have.”
If it’s true that Oliver Anthony is non-partisan, how is it that he’s become such a darling of the conservative, “anti-woke” crowd? I noticed a few of his other videos on YouTube. He’s written and sung a lot of songs that are about the plight of the working man. Indeed, he recorded most of his songs on a cellphone, singing near his off the grid camper. In the wake of his supposedly stunning debut, he’s made history, having become the first songwriter to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with no prior chart history.
Record companies are reportedly clamoring to sign Oliver Anthony. He’s “brushed off” $8 million contracts, claiming he doesn’t want to be in the spotlight, nor does he want the trappings that usually come from success in the music business. If that’s true, I commend him. Just like light bulbs, people who burn really brightly tend to burn out quickly. I think it’s good if Anthony is grounded enough to realize that losing what’s led to his relatability would be a mistake.
I also think that jumping into sudden wealth can quickly lead to disaster. Many people get caught up in the idea of living in mansions and driving fancy cars, but they forget about the associated negative things like taxes, fairweather friends, unscrupulous business associates, gold diggers, and criminals who suddenly take notice, and unhealthy interest.
I don’t have any personal experience with this phenomenon myself, but I have read and heard a lot of stories about overnight sensations who become the hottest thing in town without proper support from honest people. Next thing you know, they’re hooked on drugs and/or alcohol, suffering from severe mental health problems, and have fallen among the down and out. Mr. Anthony has already admitted that he has issues with alcohol and his mental health. Like a lot of people with mental health issues, he’s shown extraordinary talent that speaks to a lot of people. I would hope there are people near him who are looking out for his well being.
Now… about that song. Personally, I am still not a big fan of it. I mostly explained why yesterday. It reduces a lot of very complex and serious issues into a three minute song that, I think, blames some of the wrong people. I especially don’t like that Mr. Anthony, while trying to represent the working people of America, throws poor people under the bus, especially as he alludes to personal responsibility. I think those particular lyrics, reposted below, are hypocritical and ignorant.
I wish politicians would look out for miners And not just minors on an island somewhere Lord, we got folks in the street, ain’t got nothin’ to eat And the obese milkin’ welfare
Well, God, if you’re 5-foot-3 and you’re 300 pounds Taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds Young men are puttin’ themselves six feet in the ground ‘Cause all this damn country does is keep on kickin’ them down
I get being a “salt of the earth” person, and I might even agree, on the surface, that taxes shouldn’t pay for junk food. However, as I mentioned in yesterday’s rant, what seems simple to so many people, isn’t actually simple at all. A poor, obese person using a SNAP card and eating fudge rounds is likely facing a lot of problems. Many of the problems they face are not so different than the ones Mr. Anthony has faced, and tried to drown with alcohol. Moreover, someone who weighs 300 pounds at 5’3″ probably has a legitimate eating disorder.
A lot of people scoff at the whole idea of eating disorders… especially folks who come from a lower middle class background (or poorer). Many people have also only heard of the most famous eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Those are the ones that get the books, TV specials, and movies, especially when someone famous suffers or dies after having been afflicted with them.
But there are many other eating disorders out there, and they are comorbid with a host of physical, emotional, and mental health problems. They aren’t fun to have, and they can have devastating effects on people’s lives and livelihoods. The deleterious effects of eating disorders don’t just negatively affect the person suffering from them, either. Their family members, loved ones, and friends also suffer, as does society as a whole.
It seems like common sense for someone who is very obese to just quit eating so much and start exercising more. I also know that plenty of people, lucky enough not to be bothered by eating disorders, will add that fat people shouldn’t be eating junk food. And, you know, people with obesity really shouldn’t eat junk food… nor should anyone else, really, be eating junk food. But it’s so easy to think or say what people should or shouldn’t be doing, especially when you know nothing about them, their lives, or the issues they’re facing.
People develop eating disorders for different reasons. Sometimes it’s genetic. Sometimes, it happens because of trauma. Sometimes a person uses overeating, purging, or starvation as a means of coping with stress or even pain. Sugar rushes temporarily make people feel good. So do endorphin and adrenaline rushes. Fat consumption can be very comforting to some people, not to mention flavorful. Food that tastes good makes people feel better… for a short while, anyway.
When I was a lot younger, I used to skip meals a lot in an attempt to lose weight and, if I’m honest, get attention from others. Doing that usually made me really bitchy (more so than usual, that is), but sometimes I’d get an endorphin rush not unlike the ones I’d get after cutting myself or maybe hitting my head (or another body part). That rush can feel really good, especially to someone who is in some kind of pain or distress. I hasten to add here, I didn’t deliberately cut myself to get endorphin rushes. I’m merely mentioning that rush I’ve experienced after accidentally hurting myself somehow.
Deliberate cutting is an associated behavior for some people with mental health issues seeking stress or pain relief in unconventional ways. Sometimes people cut themselves on purpose as a means of distracting themselves from another kind of pain, such as replacing physical pain and bleeding with psychological pain. And the bonus is that rush of endorphins that sometimes happens when a person is hurting physically.
As a side note… I just started entering search terms on Google and it somehow knew I was going to ask about eating disorders. I typed “Why do people develop”, and it immediately suggested “eating disorders” as the top result. Obviously, I’m not the only person who wonders about it.
The truth is, there’s no one definitive reason why a person might develop problematic eating patterns. But, impoverished people often have had a lot of trauma in their lives, and food is a cheap and readily available way to soothe bad feelings. What makes a food addiction especially problematic is that people have to eat to survive, and food (especially junk food) tends to be ubiquitous. And as I mentioned yesterday, it isn’t always easy for everyone to simply eat good, nutritious food.
I imagine that Mr. Anthony, who reportedly has himself been living off the grid, would know that firsthand, just as he apparently knows about being an alcoholic. I’ll bet Oliver Anthony doesn’t like it when people point at him and claim he’s the source of a complicated societal problem. And I’ll bet the poor people who eat fudge rounds don’t like that, either. It’s not a crime to be poor, and lobbing abuse and hate toward people unfortunate enough to need welfare assistance is neither productive, nor fair. Moreover, if a person is going to sermonize about personal responsibility, they really ought to start by taking a good hard look at themselves and their personal responsibility for their own situations before pointing fingers at other people.
No matter what, though… individual welfare recipients are not directly responsible for keeping the working poor in poverty. It’s probably more likely that Anthony’s song title has the true culprit within it. That is– wealthy people who make many times what the workers make, and are more interested in keeping investors and shareholders happy are probably the ones keeping down the working folks who are just scraping by in life. Add in the fact that basic necessities like health insurance cost so much– again, because healthcare is a business, rather than a human right.
A few days ago, I mentioned my college friend who was doing well enough to recently take a vacation in Hawaii. Just after she came home from that trip, she was in a catastrophic car accident. She may never fully recover from that accident, and there’s now a crowdfunding effort to help her family accommodate her needs when she’s discharged from the rehab hospital where she’s spent the summer.
While I don’t mind helping my friends, and I did help my friend’s cause, she’s in this situation because she was in an accident. Why should she depend on the kindness of family and friends to get the care she obviously needs? Especially when there are American people who have made so much money that they’ll never be able to spend it all in their lifetime, yet they’re constantly trying to find ways to avoid paying taxes. And you know as well as I do that the vast majority of those super rich people didn’t get rich without a lot of help from the much less wealthy.
Anyway… I’d like to see Oliver Anthony dig a little deeper into the issue. And if he really is non-partisan, I’d like to see his lyrics focus less on shitting on people who are already down, regardless of their body size. We all have problems. Everybody has a story. While a lot of people can relate to “Rich Men North of Richmond” and think it’s perfectly fine that Anthony specifically calls out fat people on welfare, personally, I’m not very impressed by it. It seems like a really cheap shot to me. Maybe some more reflection and empathy are in order.
Just my opinion, folks… perhaps I should write a song about it, too.
The featured photo is a screenshot from the excellent YouTube video by Lindsay Out Loud, who expertly read this book aloud on YouTube.
Educator and father, Toby Rice, used to be the assistant principal at Gary Roads Elementary School in Hinds County, Mississippi. Today, he’s no longer employed at the school. What caused Rice to lose his job? He ran afoul of the district superintendent, Delesicia Martin, who took exception to Rice’s decision to read what she considered an “inappropriate” book to a bunch of second graders.
The trouble started on March 2, 2022. It was Read Across America week, and in honor of the annual event, approximately 240 second graders in Hinds County were to be read a book by one of the school administrators. But the administrator who was supposed to read to the kids had forgotten it was her turn to read aloud on Zoom. So Toby Rice, who has twenty years of experience as an educator, filled in at the last minute. He read Dawn McMillan’s 2012 book, “I Need a New Butt!”
Mr. Rice had read the book at a previous school where he had been principal. The father of three also read it to his own children, who counted the book as one of their favorites. The kids who heard Mr. Rice read “I Need a New Butt” in Hinds County were also delighted by the book, which is about a boy who decides he needs a new butt after seeing that his butt has a crack in it and thinking it’s broken.
Sadly, humor challenged administrators in Hinds County were offended by Price’s book choice for the literacy promotion event. Fifteen minutes after Mr. Price read the book to the kids, he was called to his principal’s office. The principal told Price that he shouldn’t have read that book and that parents would probably complain. And then, Price was told that the superintendent wanted to see Price “immediately”. According to the Washington Post:
“They kind of just let me have it,” Price said. “She said, ‘Is this the kind of thing you find funny and silly? Fart and butt and bulletproof butts?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I did until I walked in.’ ”
Two days later, Mr. Price was fired. According to the termination letter Mr. Price received from the evidently “butthurt” school superintendent, Delescia Martin, Mr. Price violated the Mississippi Educator Code of Ethics, Standards of Conduct. Below is a screenshot of the portion Mr. Price’s termination letter regarding why he was fired. The entire letter can be found here.
Regular readers know that I don’t have children. I also don’t live in Mississippi. I would not choose to live in Mississippi, because it is a place consistently placed at the BOTTOM (see what I did there) of many important “quality of life” listings. Public school education is one area where Mississippi regularly ranks at the BOTTOM. According to the US News and World Report, Mississippi is DEAD LAST in state healthcare rankings. Given that Mississippi is often placed “dead ass last” in so many “quality of life” rankings, is it any wonder that a superintendent would get sand in her undies over an educator reading a book that mentions farts and butt cracks? Of course, opinions are like assholes; everybody has one, and everyone thinks everyone else’s stinks. But I am of the opinion that Mississippi is close to the “bowels” of the United States, and “shitty” news stories like this one do little to sway my views.
Something really stinks about this…
I am a big fan of “inappropriate humor”, so if I had children who attended school in Hinds County, I would probably routinely “crack” lots of jokes about butts. I mean– it’s “HINDS County”, for pity’s sake. Where else would it be so funny to read a children’s book about butts? But in all seriousness, as Mr. Rice pointed out, there are a lot of “reluctant readers” in that county. According to Data USA, there are also a lot of poor people in Hinds County. In 2019, 21.3% of the county’s residents lived at or below the poverty line. Mr. Price said that a lot of students in Hinds County rely on free or reduced price school lunches, which makes teaching literacy especially important.
Many kids LOVE funny books with inappropriate “body” humor in them. A book like “I Need a New Butt” might be just the thing a young, beginner, “reluctant reader” needs to get hooked on reading, instead of more harmful things, like drugs and alcohol. Moreover, the book is marketed for children between the ages of 6 and 10. Second graders are usually about 7 years old, so this book was written expressly for them.
It sounds to me like the administrators in Hinds County allowed their personal preferences to dictate what is, and what is not, appropriate reading material for children. This book is very popular, and is used by educators and parents all over the country and, in fact, even worldwide. Below is a video posted by The Scottish Granny, who is reading a slightly altered version of Dawn McMillan’s book titled “I Need a New Bum”.
We’re living in very serious times right now. We could all use a good laugh. Kids today have to face so many awful things– war, pandemics, political nightmares, school shootings, inflation, and the list goes on and on. Do the administrators of Hinds County really believe that reading a funny book about butts– which EVERYONE can relate to, because we all poop and fart, and the vast majority of us have cracks in our butts– is the worst thing a teacher or school administrator can do? Can Hinds County really AFFORD to lose an experienced educator who cares about children as much as Mr. Price obviously does?
Delescia Martin and her ilk may be educators, but I really think firing Mr. Price was a very shortsighted and decidedly *uneducated* decision. Now, if Mr. Price had read a book like Beavis and Butt-head’sThis Book Sucks to the children, I might be more understanding about the decision to fire him for being “inappropriate”. But lots of excellent children’s books are about universal experiences that we all face– even unpleasant or unsavory topics like pooping and farting. Remember the popular children’s book, Everyone Poops? It was marketed to children aged 0 to 3 and is highly regarded as an excellent book for teaching potty training. As a matter of fact, a quick look at Amazon shows me that there are many other children’s books about pooping available. I don’t see how Dawn McMillan’s funny book about needing a new butt because of a “crack” in it is any more scandalous than a book like “It Hurts When I Poop”, by Howard J. Bennett, MD and illustrated by M.S. (Michael) Weber. And yet, that book also gets high marks from (probably) very grateful parents who use them to teach their children about life.
I read today that Mr. Price has retained a lawyer and will be fighting to get his job back. There is an appeal hearing scheduled for March 21, and a GoFundMe campaigned has raised over $100,000 to help Mr. Price plead his case to get reinstated. Above is one grandmother’s post on Gary Roads Elementary School’s Facebook page. Obviously, a lot of parents and grandparents are concerned and involved; quite a few of them would like to see the assistant principal be rehired. I would certainly hope that other school districts have taken notice of this case, especially if they need an experienced and dedicated educator who obviously knows and cares what children like. My many teacher friends tell me that teaching has been especially difficult lately, and a lot of well-trained and talented people are leaving the profession or not going into teaching at all. I’ll ask again. Can Hinds County really afford to lose Mr. Price?
Between this story and the one involving McMinn County in Tennessee and their stupid decision to ban the excellent book, Maus, I’m actually feeling kind of glad I don’t have any children to worry about. But I do have stepgrandchildren now, I really hope the education administrators in the United States remove their heads from their asses before younger daughter’s children begin their educational careers. And I’m also glad that I, myself, grew up in a less ridiculous time. I feel like a lot of people in the United States could collectively use a mental enema.
There are so many things I could write about this morning. Like, for instance, I read that Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend and fellow sex pest, has been convicted. She was facing six charges, and was convicted of five of them, including: sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy. She now faces up to 65 years in prison. Her sentencing date has not yet been announced, and her attorneys vow to appeal. That’s what they all say, of course…
I don’t take any particular delight when anyone gets convicted of a crime and faces a long stint in prison, but I do think justice has been served in this case, just as I did when Josh Duggar was found guilty. People who endanger others, particularly when there’s violence or coercion involved, and particularly when the crimes involve preying on vulnerable people, should go to prison. They should be removed from society so that law abiding citizens are less at risk. But, of course, that’s not saying a whole lot in the United States these days.
Anyway, suffice to say, I think it’s right that Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty. I think she should be treated humanely, as I hope all prisoners are, but I believe it’s correct to send her to prison for what she did. I hope Donald Trump is next.
Yesterday afternoon, I watched America’s Broken Dream, a 2012 French documentary that was posted on YouTube. The documentary, which was presented in English, was about homeless people in the United States as of about ten years ago. It was a bit depressing, on many levels, to watch it, especially given what has happened since 2012. Several families were interviewed– people who were homeless or “half homeless”, living in cheap motels. All of the stories were compelling, although it was the last family that really caught my attention.
Toward the end of this documentary, a young couple with two adorable little daughters is profiled. The mom, Amber Carter, is in California with her girls, presumably because California, as a “blue” state, offers better social safety nets for poor people. Dad, Daniel Carter, is in Kentucky, working manual jobs to support his young family.
At one point, Daniel comes to California to see his wife and their little girls. I am struck by how much he seems to love the kids, and his wife. Amber is shown trying to fill out job applications, but finds it impossible because she has two tiny kids to look after. I was wondering what she would do with the girls if she did get hired. I know from my days as a MSW student that decent child care is not cheap, always available, or widely accessible to everyone.
It looked like things might be improving for the young family. I had some hope that they might recover. But then Daniel Carter is arrested in Kentucky for striking and killing his neighbor, a man named Christopher Mitchell, with a hatchet. Carter maintains that Mitchell was drunk and had attacked him. He claims that he hit the guy in the head with a hatchet in self-defense.
Carter did plead guilty to fleeing and evading the police, and resisting arrest. But somehow, there wasn’t enough evidence to try Carter for the murder of Christopher Mitchell. He was released after serving 135 days in jail, time he was already credited for when he faced the judge. Another blog, titled Liar Catchers, has this article about Daniel Carter. Christopher Mitchell’s family was “furious” that Carter got away with killing their relative, especially since it wasn’t the first time he had killed someone.
I don’t believe it was mentioned in the documentary that Daniel Carter also did some time as a juvenile in Florida for killing his Uncle Jack Carter with a knife, back in the early 00s. Carter spent 19 months locked up in jail, but was later acquitted of first degree murder charges stemming from the July 2002 stabbing death of his uncle. In that case, Carter also claimed self-defense, as his uncle reportedly had come to his home to help discipline him. Daniel Carter, who was fifteen years old at the time, claimed his uncle had gone into a rage, and he had attacked him with a rusty knife to protect himself. Jack Carter was stabbed ten times, with one wound to the neck that proved to be fatal.
Many people found it hard to believe that Carter got off in that case, too. One witness said that she’d never seen Jack Carter behave in a violent way and people were shocked that his nephew, Daniel Carter, wasn’t convicted. I’m sure that prior case could not be considered when Daniel Carter fatally wounded another man in Kentucky, but it does seem eerie that he killed two men in similar ways and got away with it both times.
This is Daniel Carter. Pensacola natives might remember him as the boy who murdered his Uncle Jack Carter back in 2002. Though he stabbed his uncle over 10 times with a machete, cutting his throat and nearly severing one of his arms in the process, he was found not guilty of the crime. Why? I’ll never know. Jack’s sister, (Daniel’s mother), had called Jack over to the house that night to help her discipline Daniel, a troubled teen, whom she was unable to control. After the brutal murder of Jack Carter, members of the community, led by his mother Cindy, rallied around Daniel, who was only 15 at the time. Community members even held a fundraiser for Daniel’s defense at Bamboo Willie’s. They got him a renowned child advocacy attorney, who went on to paint a picture of a poor, abused teen, who feared for his life when he took a machete and stabbed his uncle over 10 times that night. When Daniel was release from jail after the trial, people rejoiced that he had won his freedom back. After all, poor Daniel didn’t mean to kill his uncle when he stabbed him repeatedly.
Let’s fast forward to 2012. Daniel now lives in Kentucky. And in Kentucky, after a dispute with his landlord, (who apparently had a pointed stick in his hand), Daniel proceeded to take a hatchet, (yes, a HATCHET) and plant in right in the center of his landlord’s forehead, killing him. Believe it or not, Daniel was released from jail. Self defense again. In any case, the reason I am posting this is because Daniel is a Pensacola native, and I have no idea where he is now, but it’s defintely possible that he could be back here. If you ever happen to see him and have a disagreement with him, I would advise you to RUN. Whatever you do, DO NOT confront this man. He obvioulsy has a temper, and his history shows he is very dangerous!
On a side note, the last time I saw Jack was about a week before he passed away. I hadn’t seen him in a while, so we exchanged hugs, and sat down to catch up over a drink. He was beaming. Smiling ear to ear. He told me he was inlove. He told me he never thought “this kind of happiness was possible”. And he told me that for the first time in a long time, he was excited about the future, not just going through the motions of the day to day routine. He was happy to be alive
And a few days later, he was gone. Rest in Peace, Jack. You are not forgotten.
One woman commented that she had been married to Daniel Carter. She wrote that he had conned her and her mother, and he was a very violent person. She expressed gratitude that they didn’t manage to have children together. I guess she must have been married to him before he was married to Amber, the woman who was portrayed as his wife in the documentary, as well as the mother to his two adorable little girls. If you click on the link directly above, you can read the comments about Daniel Carter and people who know him.
I didn’t know anything at all about this couple or the true crimes that were connected with them when I was watching the documentary. From what I could see on the video, Amber Carter was a good and attentive mom, even though she and her girls were living in their old car. It’s certainly not a crime to be poor. I was also struck by Daniel. He seemed to be a friendly, charismatic person. I could see how he charmed people, as he was well-spoken and seemed to work hard, and loved his daughters very much.
It just goes to show you that friendly, charming, well-spoken people really can be hiding monstrous characteristics under the surface. In the documentary, his boss says that Daniel Carter has an “amazing work ethic” and that his little girls are all he talks about. To hear him tell it, Daniel is a fine young man and dedicated provider to his family. I truly enjoyed watching him interact with his daughters, who really seemed to love him. He seemed to love them right back. I was genuinely saddened when the announcer in the documentary talked about Daniel’s arrest. The Carters seemed like they might somehow make it– or, at least it seemed like they were trying to get out of the hole they were in.
I got curious about Amber Carter, so I looked her up. Sadly, it appears that she might also have some serious legal problems. In September 2021, a woman named Amber Carter, who roughly matches the age and description of the Amber Carter in the documentary, was wanted by the police in Jones County, Mississippi. She was accused of “giving birth to a child who tested positive for methamphetamine” and was to face one count of felony child abuse. According to this article, Amber Carter was captured about a week after the news reported about her. She is, at this writing, listed on the inmate roster in Jones County, Mississippi.
As I was searching for more information about the recent charges against Amber Carter, I also ran across another item from May 2018, which appeared to involve the same woman– again, for giving birth to a baby who tested positive for cocaine and meth. If this is the same Amber, that means she’s had at least two more children who have been born into deplorable circumstances and are likely in foster care now.
While it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if the Amber Carter who was wanted in Mississippi is the same Amber Carter in the documentary, it does make me sad that it could be, and probably is, her. The Amber in the documentary genuinely seemed to be a good mom, although it could be she was only like that when the cameras were rolling. I suppose I can understand how a person in the situation Amber and the other people profiled in the documentary might fall into drug abuse, but it really does seem like a terrible shame.
Although there seems to be an age discrepancy between the documentary Amber and the Amber in the above mug shot, I do think they are one and the same. The documentary was released in 2012, but 2008 was when the recession was really bad. I think it’s very likely that the footage was filmed in the years prior to 2012, and if that’s the case, then the ages for Amber in the documentary and Amber in the mug shot line up perfectly. Also, there is a very strong physical resemblance.
After I finished watching the documentary, I happened across a guest opinion essay in The New York Times about a woman who had once owned a home and horses. She was raised in Palo Alto, California by successful parents, and went to college and studied journalism. Lori Teresa Yearwood once had it all– including her own business. But a series of misfortunes and subsequent mental health challenges plunged her into homelessness. She spent two years on the streets, where she was sexually assaulted multiple times.
Yearwood went to several hospitals via ambulance after the assaults. She was so traumatized that she couldn’t speak, so hospital administrators did not know she was homeless– or, so they claim. As she was getting back on her feet again, with the help of Utah-based non-profit organization, Journey of Hope and an accountant she knew from her days as a business owner, Yearwood discovered just how outrageously expensive being homeless is. People don’t realize that homeless people often incur debts because they get arrested and fined. Yearwood also had huge hospital and ambulance bills, due to visiting the facilities after she was assaulted and locked in a storage shed for two days.
Fortunately, once she was functioning again, Yearwood was able to advocate for herself. She’s now back to working as a reporter. She got the huge medical bills dismissed, after she explained to the hospital administrators that she would be reporting about how they treated her. From the opinion piece, Yearwood wrote:
A public relations official responded that while in the hospital’s care, I refused to speak, so staff members didn’t know I was homeless. I explained that I had not refused to speak; I had been traumatized and had gone essentially mute for two years. By this time in my renewed journalism career, I had obtained my medical records, so I showed the hospital administrators some of the doctors’ notes about me. The next email from the hospital was swift: “Upon reviewing your account, we have decided to honor your claim of being homeless at the time of service and wrote off the remaining balance.”
I asked the hospital administrators if they were going to respond to the harm they had caused by ruining my credit: the stress and sleepless nights, the fact that I could no longer qualify for low interest rates on mortgages. The spokesman apologized but said, “All I can do is make it right going forward.”
Lori Teresa Yearwood is one of the lucky ones. I know it’s hard to climb out of poverty. I remember when Bill and I were first married, we weren’t impoverished, but it sure felt that way. I seriously thought we’d never get out of debt. It took years to do it, but I had my eye on the prize, and we were very fortunate in many ways. Moving to Germany, for instance, was a great move for our finances. But not everyone can do what we did… and many people are burdened by having children to raise.
I look at Amber Carter and I suspect that years of living as she was depicted in the America’s Broken Dream documentary wore her down on many levels. I’m sure that using drugs and having unprotected sex were two escapes for her that made life temporarily more pleasant. But those decisions ultimately made her personal situation much worse, and they also made things worse for her innocent children. She joins so many Americans who are incarcerated, and will find it so much harder to function once they are released.
As for Yearwood, I think she makes an excellent point that Americans need to pay more attention to treating mental health issues. Yearwood was doing great until the 2008 recession hit, she had credit problems that led to foreclosure, the Oregon house she was renting burned down, her dog died, and then, in 2014, she had a mental health breakdown that made it impossible to continue operating her business. When she was slowly recovering in 2017, she was fortunate enough to run into people who coaxed her toward rejoining society. She writes:
Nonprofit employees who work with the homeless should be trained in how to interact with people who have experienced trauma. Otherwise, they may inadvertently shame their clients for being hesitant to return to an economic system that has already penalized and punished them. A classic symptom of trauma is avoiding the source of that trauma.
As I was emerging from homelessness, I trusted very few people. I needed what advocates call a soft handoff. I would never have considered going to a group trying to help me unless someone I trusted had referred me and would go with me. My initial soft handoff was arranged by Shannon Cox, a former police officer and the founder of Journey of Hope. She took me to lunch and drove me to the hospitals to pick up all the records that I had no idea I was going to need to later protect myself financially.
Now, Yearwood is able to advocate for herself and others, but if not for people who cared enough to help her, she might still be on the street. She might still be at risk of sexual assault and falling into illegal drug use to escape the despair. Maybe she might be in a position similar to Amber Carter’s, although thankfully, there probably wouldn’t be any innocent children involved.
The America’s Broken Dream documentary also profiles other families– people who had jobs and homes, and their children, who were forced to live in cheap motels and worry about being picked up by child protective services. I might have to see if any of those people managed to pull themselves out of homelessness. I know it’s hard, though, because as Yearwood points out, it’s very expensive to be poor. A lot of people have no idea. And there but by the grace of God go any of us, unfortunately.
Documentaries like America’s Broken Dream scare the hell out of me, and make me so grateful for what I have… and for Bill, who works so hard to provide for us. But, I swear, every time I read a news article about financial ruin– something that Bill has already survived when he was with his ex wife– I want to start another bank account. It really is hard getting by in America if you don’t have the right skills, enough support, and luck.
Here’s a repost from March 24, 2018. I am reposting it as I think about what I want today’s fresh content to be.I will also repost an earlier post about the video below, in particular.
Today’s post is taken from a direct quote that was included in a 1970s era film made at Brigham Young University called “The Fat Fighters”.
I was reminded of this film this morning as I read a news story by The New York Times about America’s worsening obesity epidemic. I really shouldn’t read the comments on these articles because they regularly piss me off. So many people have simple “explanations” as to why Americans are so fat. But it seems to me that if the problem is so simple, so must be the solution, right? If that were true, then people would simply eat less, choose higher quality food, exercise more, and weigh less. Simple, right? But I don’t think it is a simple problem.
I read comment after comment from people claiming that “good food” is cheap and easy to prepare. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that, as long as you have everything you need to make food and you have the time, energy, and know how to prepare it. Many Americans work very long hours for low pay. If they are fortunate enough to have work, they will have to work long and hard to make enough money to pay their bills. If they work ten or twelve hours a day at two jobs, they might be exhausted when they get home. And that’s if they are only supporting themselves. A lot of people who work long hours also have families to tend.
Many Americans don’t necessarily have the ability to shop for whole foods, transport them, prepare them, or cook them. Some people also don’t have access to the tools they’d need to make that good, wholesome food. It takes money to buy pots, pans, electricity to run the oven and refrigerator, gas to buy the fuel to get to a store, or pay for a fare on public transportation. Although, a lot of Americans have access to adequate housing and transportation, not everyone does. So those people do what they can to survive. Many times that means eating a chemical laden hot dog or microwaved burrito from 7 Eleven instead of a bowl of homemade vegetable soup.
Okay… so what if you’re like most Americans and you do own a car? You do live in housing that has kitchen facilities. You live in a town where there are several good supermarkets and, hey, you even have the Internet, so you can order groceries online. You still have to have the time and energy to make that “good food”. I happen to like cooking and Bill and I enjoy a lifestyle that affords us the ability to eat well, if we choose. We do try to keep most junk food out of the house, although we love beer and wine, which is not exactly dietetic.
The point I’m trying to make is that the problem of obesity seems really simple. It seems like it has a simple cause and a simple solution. However, if you think about it for longer than a minute, the problem becomes less simple. If the problem really were that simple, we would have solved it by now.
I once lived in a country where poor people weren’t generally fat. Those people didn’t eat a lot of meat because they couldn’t afford it. Indeed, being a little bit heavy meant that you had more money. It wasn’t necessarily fashionable, but it made a statement about your income. In that country, though, people didn’t work constantly like they do in the United States. They spent time with their families and friends and ate with them. The lifestyle was very different there. You wouldn’t see poor people eating candy bars or cake because those items were expensive. It was actually cheaper to buy an apple, especially if it was in season.
In the United States, poor people are more likely to be fat than wealthy people. Why? Because the food that is most available to them is cheap, filling, and of poorer quality. And some of those people eat fattening, sugary, salty foods because it temporarily makes them feel better. They gain weight and lose more status… and people make judgments and comments about them based on preconceived notions. And God help you if you happen to be both poor and obese. This was one comment made on the New York Times Facebook post about America’s rising obesity problem.
It is VERY true eating healthier is more expensive. Poor people are also more prone to addiction and food is the most common addiction.
Well… I don’t know that I’d make a comment like that. The truth is, people are poor for many reasons. Poverty is also a very complex issue with no simple solutions. Some poor people are addicts. Some are not. It just depends.
As for the title of this post, I think perhaps what the narrator meant is that overweight people might be dishonest, inconsistent, and irresponsible about food and eating. I would hope he wasn’t saying that overweight people are those things in general. However, he did actually say that– he said that overweight people have several character defects and he didn’t qualify his statement as only pertaining to their eating habits. So basically, he was perpetuating the idea that overweight people are lower quality human beings who don’t deserve to be as well-regarded as thinner people usually are.
Another comment I noticed came from a woman who, I’m sure, thinks she’s a “thinker”. She posted that in the long run, broccoli is “cheaper” than a cheeseburger because it will lead to fewer healthcare costs. However, if you have to force yourself to eat broccoli because you can barely stand the taste of it, how likely will you actually benefit from choosing to eat it over a burger? What are the odds that you might buy that broccoli and then let it rot in your fridge? And… what if you eat nothing but broccoli, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and then still get sick or catastrophically injured somehow? Eating “good” food may promote better health and lower healthcare costs, but it’s not a guarantee.
Personally, I’ve decided to just relax and enjoy life as much as possible. I don’t trouble myself with what other people are eating. I don’t worry about how their habits will affect my medical bills. I don’t blame fat people for all of the wrongs in the world, nor do I give much thought to shaming them. Life is difficult and complex, and there is no magic bullet. I think there are too many people out there who feel inclined to judge and assume what’s wrong or missing in another person’s life. But even as I write that, I understand that we all do it to an extent. I do it, too.
Sigh… I really need to stop reading comments on articles. But then, if I did that, I might be writing fewer blog posts.
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