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Nigel Shelby: A Tribute to the Alabama High School Student

THE WESTSIDE GAZETTE — Nigel Shelby killed himself after he was subjected to anti-gay bullying in Huntsville, Alabama, his family says. Shelby was 15 years old. The state of Alabama provides no legal protections for LGBTQ+ high school students.

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Nigel Shelby killed himself after he was subjected to anti-gay bullying in Huntsville, Alabama, his family says. Shelby was 15 years old. The state of Alabama provides no legal protections for LGBTQ+ high school students. If you or anybody you know is depressed or considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 or The Trevor Project on 1-866-488-7386.

By Paul Farrell

The circumstances surrounding Shelby’s tragic death were revealed in a Facebook post from Huntsville’s local LGBTQ+ pride organization, Rocket City Pride. Huntsville is known as Rocket City due to its association with U.S. space missions.

A GoFundMe Page That Has Been Setup for Shelby’s Family Has Already Surpassed Its Goal

The group said, “We are heartbroken over the death of Nigel Shelby, a 15-year-old Freshman at Huntsville High School. Nigel took his life because he was bullied for being gay. There are no words that can be said to make sense of this devastating news.” That post was published on April 20 and included a link to a GoFundMe page that has been set up to help to pay for Shelby’s funeral. At the time of writing, the page has raised close to $15,000. The original goal of the crowdfunding page was $10,000. The blurb for the page simply reads, “Help Us Raise Money For Nigel Gone Too Soon.” A candlelight vigil was held for Shelby at University Park/Northridge on April 21.

Shelby’s mother thanked those who donated in a Facebook post. She wrote in part, “Everyone one for this amazing blessing and I want you to know I am humble and truly grateful. Even though I cannot thank all of you one by one just know I know who each and every one of you are and my heart feels a little less empty knowing you all are here.”

An Alabama Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Graves said in response to Shelby’s Death: ‘Liberty Guns Bible Trump BBQ: That’s My Kind of LGBT’

#NigelShelby took his life because he was bullied for being gay. Then the Madison County Deputy Sheriff Jeff Graves made homophobic comments on the post. I am disgusted by my hometown. #HuntsvilleAL

Madison County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Graves has been suspended from duty after he commented on a local TV station’s Facebook post regarding Shelby’s death. Graves wrote in the comment, “Liberty Guns Bible Trump BBQ That’s my kind of LGBTQ I’m seriously offended that there is such a thing as this movement. Society cannot and should except this behavior. I have a right to be offended and will always be offended by this fake movement which requires no special attention by persons persons with an altered ego and fake agenda.” Graves’ suspension was first reported by Al.com.

A Huntsville Pride Performer Said: ‘These Bullies Have to Be Held Accountable’

Among those contributing to the GoFundMe page was Rocket City Pride who raised more than $800 through brunch on April 21 and will hold bingo night in Shelby’s honor on April 23. One of the Rocket City Pride performers, Caila Malone, told Rocket City Now, “I remember being called terrible words even when I was in elementary school before I knew what they meant. These bullies have to be held accountable, and until our state legislation shows that they have to do that, they’re able to run a muck and do whatever they want.” Fellow performer, Zonnell Glamoure, added, “It really does get better. I mean, we stand here as full-grown adults proud of what we do.”

74% of LGBYQ+ Youth ‘Do Not Feel Safe at School’

The principal of Huntsville High School Aaron King identified Shelby as a 9th-grade student at the school in a statement. King wrote, “We were saddened to learn this morning of the death of Nigel Shelby, one of our 9th-grade students. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.” That statement included guidelines to parents to help them notice worrying behavior in children. According to the Center of Social Equity, 74 percent of LGBTQ+ youth say they did not feel safe at school.

Mental health awareness campaigner Nadia Richardson, a graduate of Huntsville High School, said in a statement, “Suicide in Black youth is on the rise and has reportedly reached twice that of White youth… Don’t shy away from the necessary conversations around this. The cost is too high.” Richardson is the founder of No More Martyrs. She later wrote, “I am still processing this loss. We have so much to understand and so much work to do. Racism, sexism, homophobia, classism; all of this plays a part. Bullying is a by-product of a world ill-equipped to include that which is deemed different. As a result, psychologically damaging othering occurs and leaves many isolated, self-loathing and depressed. Don’t shy away from the necessary conversations around this. The cost is too high.”

Nigel Shelby No More Martyrs

This article originally appeared in The Westside Gazette.

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Bay Area

A Labor of Love, Daughter Gifts Kidney to Her Father

After sharing the news of possibly going on dialysis with his wife and children, Rev. Chambers was moved and relieved at the show of support, love and sacrifice that his family, and his community, was willing to give in order to ensure his health. After well over a year of doctor’s appointments, testing and consultations, prayers and support, Rev. Chambers received a successful kidney transplant from his living donor, his daughter Candase Chambers on Friday, Aug. 26 at UCSF Medical Center.

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Rev. Chambers hopes his family’s experience encourages other families to support each other and always work together. “Working together works,” he said.
Rev. Chambers hopes his family’s experience encourages other families to support each other and always work together. “Working together works,” he said.

When Rev. Ken Chambers, Sr. first received news from his doctor that he may need to go on dialysis, it felt like a knot in his stomach after having gone through his share of health challenges in the past. He had experienced congestive heart failure, kidney failure, and in 2014, he successfully fought cancer.

After sharing the news of possibly going on dialysis with his wife and children, Rev. Chambers was moved and relieved at the show of support, love and sacrifice that his family, and his community, was willing to give in order to ensure his health. After well over a year of doctor’s appointments, testing and consultations, prayers and support, Rev. Chambers received a successful kidney transplant from his living donor, his daughter Candase Chambers on Friday, Aug. 26 at UCSF Medical Center.

“It has been a long journey with my health declining and having fought cancer three different times in three different places of my body,” Rev. Chambers said. “Not only were my kidneys failing but I was slated for dialysis. Once I got confirmation that a transplant was possible, I had seven people offer to be my kidney donor. What a blessing that all of my kids were willing to be a donor but in lieu of all the efforts, my daughter Candase matched up and moved aggressively to go forward with the transplant. It’s all been a part of God’s plan.”

For a year before the surgery, Candase had gone through multiple tests and doctor assessments to make sure she was healthy enough to be a kidney donor and to confirm she was a match to give her father one of her kidneys — the greatest sacrifice one can make.

“Once I knew I was a match, there was nothing else to consider. If I could save my dad’s life, I knew that was a choice I was going to make,” said Candase. “Recovery has been uncomfortable and a process, but seeing my dad regain his strength and energy makes it all worth it. It feels nice to at least be able to give back to a parent when they have already given so much to me.”

The journey for them both was not free of its challenges and possible setbacks. The surgery had been scheduled and postponed twice before, once when Pastor Chambers tested positive for COVID-19 and another when his heart test raised some concerns for doctors to ensure he was healthy enough to undergo the intensive surgery.

Rev. Chambers said, “Praise God the surgery went forward, and the transplant has been a success. My kidney started working immediately and I will be preaching my first sermon on Sunday, Sept. 18, three weeks and two days after the surgery. God is so good! My wife, family and community organizations all have been so supportive, I’m forever grateful.”

Friends of the Chambers family started a donation fund to support them with additional medical costs and care throughout the recovery process.

Rev. Chambers hopes his family’s experience encourages other families to support each other and always work together. “Working together works,” he said.

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Activism

Protesters Demand Further Investigation After Alameda County Grand Jury Report Ignores Flagrant Probate Abuses

Cathy Rodriguez was denied the conservatorship of her aunt, 88-year-old Mildred Rodriguez, despite sharing ownership of the mobile home they lived in. Mildred’s estate was handed over to a public guardian because of a dispute between Cathy and a cousin, Rose Rivera, who had placed the mobile home and Mildred’s retirement and assets in her name.

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Samantha Durrell shows before and after pictures of her mother under the “care” of her court-appointed guardian.
Samantha Durrell shows before and after pictures of her mother under the “care” of her court-appointed guardian.

By Tanya Dennis

The release last month of Alameda County’s Grand Jury report charging deficiencies in the Alameda County Probate Court system has set off a firestorm of activity by probate reform groups that say the report did not go far enough.

Affected family members and activists gathered outside of the Alameda County Supervisors Administration office Aug. 11 to protest the failure of the Grand Jury to address the families’ losses of their loved ones and their estates.

According to the protesters, the Grand Jury report failed to address the ongoing enrichment of court-appointed guardians or conservators to the detriment of conservatees and their families.

“Protesters want the presiding probate judge, Charles Smiley, the Grand Jury and the County Board of Supervisors to genuinely consider their complaints of guardianship abuse and reopen the Grand Jury investigation,” said Venus Gist of California Justice.

Samantha Dussell and Cecily Dussell were among those outside the courthouse. “I’m out here protesting today because my mother’s civil rights were violated,” said Samantha Dussell. She and her daughter, Cecily Dussell, had filed a verified petition to remove the public guardian from their mother/grandmother, Rosalie Hope Sifuentez.

“In every aspect of my mother’s life, there has been a lack of common sense and integrity and contempt for her that has been used in making decisions for her daily care, health care, emotional and spiritual needs and living environment,” Samantha said.

Also protesting was Doris Lilly who alleges that the estate of her aunt, 97-year-old Christine Williams, was taken and sold by the man who prepared Williams’ taxes.

Lilly said that Williams’ tax preparer utilized his access to Williams’ documents, changed her will, her power of attorney, placed his name on her accounts, then sold her $800,000 home for $605,000, gave $100,000 to two nephews and has not been held accountable by the court to report what happened to the $405,000 balance of her estate despite requests from the family.

Cathy Rodriguez was denied the conservatorship of her aunt, 88-year-old Mildred Rodriguez, despite sharing ownership of the mobile home they lived in. Mildred’s estate was handed over to a public guardian because of a dispute between Cathy and a cousin, Rose Rivera, who had placed the mobile home and Mildred’s retirement and assets in her name.

Rather than assist Cathy in returning the assets she shared with Mildred, the conservator reported to the court that Mildred did not trust Cathy, despite a hand-written note by Mildred that she did not like the care facility she was in and wished to live with Cathy.

Rivera, the Public Guardian, filed a complaint claiming Cathy’s behavior was disruptive and prohibited her from having any contact with her aunt.

“The system is abusing my auntie and keeping her in prison with no contact with the outside world,” Rodriguez says. In a video recording, Mildred states “I want out of here. I want out of this place. I don’t like staying here and being with these people, I want to live with Cathy.”

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Advice

COVID Vaccines Available for Children Under 4 as School Year Gets Under Way

Children ages 3 and above are eligible to receive the vaccination at pharmacies, while children under 3 will need to see their pediatrician or small community clinics due to federal regulations. The state has purchased enough vaccines for every child in California with the first shipment of 500,000 doses having arrived last month.

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Protecting everyone in the household is a top priority as the new school year approaches. For the first time since the pandemic, vaccines are available for the entire family. Age is no longer a factor.
Protecting everyone in the household is a top priority as the new school year approaches. For the first time since the pandemic, vaccines are available for the entire family. Age is no longer a factor.

By Edward Henderson, California Black Media

As parents across California focus on purchasing new clothes, school supplies and technological aids for their children for the coming school year, public health officials and healthcare professionals are asking them to consider the COVID-19 vaccine a back-to-school essential.

In June, COVID-19 vaccines were authorized for children 6 months through 4 years. Consequently, about 2.2 million children in California and nearly 20 million children in the United States less than 5 years of age are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Although data from the trials involving thousands of infants and toddlers over the age of 6 months show that the vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to prevent serious health issues for youth and their families, many parents are hesitant to have their young children vaccinated.

Pfizer vaccine trials enlisted roughly 4,500 infants and toddlers over the age of 6 months. They proved the vaccine effective against COVID-19 and showed a strong antibody response in children receiving the vaccine.

Moderna vaccine trials involved over 6,500 infants and toddlers over the age of 6 months. They also proved the vaccine effective against COVID-19 and showed a strong antibody response in children who received it.

Dr. Jennifer Miller, a pediatrician with East Bay Pediatrics, spoke about her experiences with parents in her practice regarding the vaccine during a virtual press conference hosted by The California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

“For those families that are hesitant and questioning, I try to understand what their fears and questions are. I try to remind them that we are in this together. I care about the health and wellbeing of their children, and I will always suggest the best possible course for them,” she said. “I let them know that ultimately it is their decision to make, and I am here as a resource. It is normal to be afraid of the unknown and to want to protect your child. With that in mind, vaccination is the best protection around.”

COVID-19 vaccines were only authorized for use in the U.S. after three phases of clinical trials that show the vaccines are effective at protecting against the virus.

For the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials with children under 5 years old, infants and toddlers of different ethnicities were enrolled to ensure that the vaccine is consistently effective.

Once the trials were completed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined after rigorous analysis that the data meets their high standards of safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality.

Since the vaccines were authorized for emergency use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been using platforms like V-safe and VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) to monitor safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Children ages 3 and above are eligible to receive the vaccination at pharmacies, while children under 3 will need to see their pediatrician or small community clinics due to federal regulations. The state has purchased enough vaccines for every child in California with the first shipment of 500,000 doses having arrived last month.

The Moderna vaccine for children under 4 is a two-dose vaccine like the dosage for adults, with one month in between doses.

The Pfizer vaccine is three doses. The first dose is followed by the second 21 days later and the final dose comes 60 days after that.

The Moderna dose is 1/4 of an adult dose, and the Pfizer vaccine is 1/10 of the adult dose. Tests show the side effects of minor fever and pain at the injection site can be stronger for children who receive the Moderna vaccine.

Protecting everyone in the household is a top priority as the new school year approaches. For the first time since the pandemic, vaccines are available for the entire family. Age is no longer a factor.

Data has also shown that the vaccine is effective for pregnant women and safe for their unborn children. Additional protections can also be given to them while they are still in the womb.

Dr. Sarah Takekawa, an obstetrician-gynecologist, is currently raising three children under 5. She spoke during the CDPH virtual press conference on concerns pregnant women may have with the vaccine and its effect on children. Takekawa was fully vaccinated before conceiving her third child and received her booster while pregnant.

“I have seen first-hand what the COVID-19 infection can do to otherwise extremely healthy young women during their pregnancies. Watching firsthand as otherwise healthy adults succumb to the disease, it seems easy to us to make this decision about wanting to get vaccinated and encouraging other parents to have their children vaccinated. But we also understand that it is a discussion that needs to be had.”

You can view the entire Department of Public Health’s digital press conference discussion here or at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-BRl0_CdjDA6XsQMUyr3vKWzYGygjGo5/view and learn more about the youth vaccine. You can also visit Vaccinate All 58 to learn more about safe and effective vaccines available for all Californians aged 6 months and older.

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