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Cincinnati ‘Ready to Explode’ if Judge Goes to Jail

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Former Cincinnati State Sen. Eric Kearney told a group of Black Press of America publishers that he’s concerned that the prosecution and conviction of Judge Tracie Hunter and her impending six-month jail sentence, that’s set to begin on July 22, will rekindle the same intense racial division that led to race riots less than 20 years ago.

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Former Judge Fears “Being another Sandra Bland”

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The impending jailing of Judge Tracie Hunter, the first African American Juvenile Court Judge in Hamilton County’s long history, has the city of Cincinnati on edge, according to her supporters and a former state senator.

“I think it’s going to be a problem,” said former Cincinnati State Sen. Eric Kearney, who is revered as “The Connector in Chief” throughout the state and neighboring Kentucky.

An attorney by trade, Kearney currently serves as president and CEO of the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky African-American Chamber of Commerce.

Kearney told a group of Black Press of America publishers that he’s concerned that the prosecution and conviction of Judge Tracie Hunter and her impending six-month jail sentence, that’s set to begin on July 22, will rekindle the same intense racial division that led to race riots less than 20 years ago.

“I’m telling you, black people are not going to take [Hunter going to jail] lightly. The city is on edge,” Kearney said. “The city is going to explode.”

Hunter was convicted of just one of the 10 counts against her for securing a public contract.

Kearney, Hunter and her vast number of supporters have said the process used to convict her wreaked of politics, corruption, nepotism and racism.

The jury that rendered the guilty verdict was comprised of political foes and others associated with the prosecutors and a Republican establishment that didn’t take kindly to Hunter breaking the GOP and white-male dominated stronghold to win a seat on the bench in 2010, her supporters have pointed out.

Surprisingly, one of the jurors worked for WCPO Television, a local station that has filed numerous lawsuits against Hunter.

Also, court documents revealed that the jury foreman contributed $500 to state Sen. Bill Seitz, the father of county jury coordinator Brad Seitz, who was responsible for compiling the panel of jurors.

Hunter said three black jurors, none of whom had known ties to prosecutors and all of whom held out for acquittal, ultimately succumbed to pressure from other jurors and a judge who refused to allow defense lawyers to poll the jury after announcing the verdict.

In every American criminal trial, particularly those that end in guilty verdicts, it’s the right of attorneys to request the judge to poll all 12 jurors to ensure each were in agreement with the verdict.

“The judge refused a motion for a retrial after he refused to poll the jury, in clear violation of the law and at the request of my attorney,” Hunter said as she stood in front of a large group of supporters sporting black T-shirts imprinted with the logo, “Justice for Judge Tracie Hunter.”

“If the judge polled the jury, it happened in a blink, but I don’t remember that happening,” Kearney said.

“At the close of the trial, three jurors came forward and said that their true verdict was not guilty and if Judge Norbert Nadel had polled the jury, they would have said so,” Hunter said.

After being convicted on one of 10 counts filed against her, Hunter lost her appeals, one of which was presided over by prosecutor Joe Deters’ mother-in-law, Judge Sylvia Hendon.

Representatives for Deters and Hendon have declined to comment to NNPA Newswire.

Hunter, who earned her undergraduate degree from Miami University in 1988 and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1992, won election in 2010, stunning the Republican-led city by defeating GOP contender John Williams.

Williams and the GOP contested Hunter’s victory and a heated court battle and numerous appeals by the Hamilton County Board of Elections which refused to count more than 800 votes from majority Democrat and Black precincts, ensued.

Hunter then filed a federal lawsuit to have those voted counted.

While the court finally ordered those votes to be counted, election officials still certified Williams as the victor.

However, once the votes were counted, the election was overturned in Hunter’s favor.

The 18-month period proved pivotal because then-Gov. John Kasich appointed Williams to the bench and the state Supreme Court changed the rules giving Williams administrative authority over the court.

As the senior judge and the only one elected, Hunter would have received the position of administrative judge.

Still, Hunter worked behind the bench to protect the rights of children including refusing to allow their names and faces to appear in news coverage.

After serving just 18 months, her enemies found a way to silence her and end her career.

Hunter was charged with theft for using her judicial credit card to appeal the lawsuits filed against her by Deters, the prosecutor.

“I think this is about power and control,” Kearney said. “Judge Hunter didn’t come through traditional means and she didn’t come through the status quo and that makes her a threat,” he said.

Kearney said the city is on edge, something Hunter acknowledges that she’s fully aware of.

“There is so much racism, so much nepotism and so much cronyism here in Cincinnati but I just hold on to the belief that the truth shall set you free and I will continue to stand on the truth,” Hunter said.

Now, with her law license suspended and having exhausted any savings and appeals, Hunter is facing jail.

Further frustrating is that Hunter is the lone caregiver to her ailing and aging mother and Hunter said she knows that her pending incarceration is both political and racially-motivated.

In a televised interview with a local station in Cincinnati, Hunter said she fears being another Sandra Bland, the African American woman who in 2015 was found dead in her jail cell just three days after being arrested during a traffic stop.

“I want everyone to know that I don’t drink … I don’t do drugs… I have no intention of harming myself,” Hunter said.

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Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.
The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D, NNPA Newswire Entertainment and Culture Editor

The documentary She Had A Dream by Tunisian filmmaker Raja Amari premieres on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange series tonight at 8 p.m. EST on WORLD CHANNEL. Season 14 of the acclaimed documentary series captures Black artists and activists shaping and reclaiming culture, advocating for change and mobilizing for brighter futures. She Had A Dream offers an intimate portrayal of one young Black Tunisian woman’s quest for political office and her fight against racism and oppression in a society that often seeks to overlook both.

The documentary follows Ghofrane, a 20-something Black woman from Tunisia as she walks the path of self-discovery of young adulthood while running for political office in a homeland where many still view her as an outsider.

Watch the trailer below:

A dedicated, charismatic activist and a modern, free-speaking woman, Ghofrane in many ways is the embodiment of contemporary Tunisian political hopes still alive years after the Arab Spring. She Had A Dream follows Ghofrane as she works to conquer her own self-doubts while attempting to persuade close friends and complete strangers to vote for her. As audiences follow her campaign, they also follow the dichotomies of her life as a woman striving for a role in politics in the Arab world and as a Black person in a country where racism is prevalent, yet often denied.

“The 14th season of AfroPoP shines a light on the collective power, strength and resilience of Black people and movements around the world,” said Leslie Fields-Cruz, AfroPoP executive producer. “Viewers will see artists use their platforms to push for progress and human rights and see ‘ordinary’ people do the remarkable in the interest of justice.”

Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.

She Had A Dream airs on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange Monday, April 11 at 8 p.m. ET on WORLD Channel and begins streaming on worldchannel.org at the same time.

AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange is presented by Black Public Media and WORLD Channel. For more information, visit worldchannel.org or blackpublicmedia.org.

This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena.
The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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BBC Africa is reporting Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is facing a water shortage because of changing weather patterns and aging water facilities. The article reports, “Residents in informal communities like Kibra pay private vendors for water, meaning they now control the supply and access to water in the community.” The privatization of water access has led to an increase in the exploitation of women and girls in exchange for water.

“Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena. Check out the 2018 ANEW documentary short below:

The water crisis and the sexual exploitation of girls and women as a result of the water crisis shows no signs of slowing down.

To read more about this crisis, visit BBC Africa‘s series of articles and videos on Kenya’s water crisis and the Water Integrity Network’s (WIN) study on sextortion.

This news brief was curated by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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#WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright

THE AFRO — Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Black youths ages 15 to 24, according to the Office of Minority Health. The same report found Black high school-aged girls were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide than their white peers. And, by June 2020, the CDC saw the rate of Black respondents who reported having “seriously considered suicide” was significantly higher.
The post #WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Maya Pottiger, Word in Black

It’s no surprise that we’re living through difficult times. After two years, we’re still in a global pandemic, which has predominantly impacted people of color. In addition, Book bans, attacks on critical race theory, and partisan political fights target everything from Black youths’ sexuality, to history, to health.

And we’re seeing the effects.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Black youths ages 15 to 24, according to the Office of Minority Health. The same report found Black high school-aged girls were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide than their white peers. And, by June 2020, the CDC saw the rate of Black respondents who reported having “seriously considered suicide” was significantly higher.

For a variety of reasons — ongoing stigma, lack of insurance, most accessible — Black students often rely on the mental health services offered at school.Outside of a mental health-specific practice, Black students were nearly 600 times as likely to get mental health help in an academic setting compared to other options, according to 2020 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In fact, mental health services in schools have been steadily gaining popularity among students since 2009, before dropping slightly in 2020 when the school year was interrupted, according to the SAMHSA report. As a result, the rate of students receiving mental health care through school decreased by 14 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

So how are schools changing the way they address and prioritize mental health — and the specific needs of Black students — since 2020?

The Renewed Focus on Mental Health

For school-aged people, the majority of their time is spent in a school building — about eight hours per day, 10 months out of the year. To help address mental health during academic hours, schools are trying to focus on social-emotional learning: self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills. This includes teaching kids how to be in touch with their emotions and protect against adverse mental health outcomes.

But it’s been difficult.

Though there’s been more conversation, the implementation is challenging, says Dr. Kizzy Albritton, an associate professor of school psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. There was already a shortage of school-based mental health professionals before the pandemic, which has now been exacerbated, as have mental health issues. In addition, though schools clearly recognize the importance of mental health, they aren’t always provided adequate resources.

“Unless there are more resources funneled into the school system, we’re going to see a continued catch-up issue across the board,” Albritton says. “And, unfortunately, our Black students are going to continue to suffer the most.”

In a survey of high school principals and students, Education Week Research Center found discrepancies in how principals and students viewed a school’s mental health services. While 86 percent of the principals said their schools provided services, only about 66 percent of students agreed. The survey did point out it’s possible the school offers these services and students aren’t aware. The survey also found Black and Latinx students were less likely than their peers to say their schools offered services.

Dr. Celeste Malone, the president-elect of the National Association for School Psychologists and a Howard University associate professor, says she hasn’t previously seen this degree of attention to mental health in schools.

“I see that a lot in my role for a school psychology graduate program: the outreach and people contacting me with openings where they didn’t exist previously,” Malone says. “With this increased push in funding to hire more, that’s definitely a very, very positive movement.”

Mental Health Is Not One Size Fits All

Just like with many aspects of health, Black youths need different mental health support from their peers of other races. They need a counselor who understands their lived experiences, like microaggressions and other forms of discrimination or racism, without the student having to explain.

For example, in order to best address the specific mental health needs of Black students, districts need to provide information breaking down mental health stigmas; focus on hiring Black counselors, social workers, and mental health professionals; and fund anti-racist and trauma-informed mental health practices, according to the Center for American Progress.

While she hears a lot of talk, Albritton says she isn’t seeing widespread evidence of these solutions in practice.

“There needs to be a willingness, first of all, to understand that our Black students, their needs look a lot different,” Albritton says. School officials need to understand where Black students are coming from — that their families and households experience systemic and structural racism, which are known to trigger anxiety and depression. The effects of the racial wealth gap also play a role, from the neighborhood kids are living in, to the schools they can attend to the impacts on their health. Students might be bringing worries about these challenges to school, which could be reflected in their behavior. This is why, Albritton says, it’s crucial to also work with students’ families.

The post #WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright appeared first on AFRO American Newspapers .

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