I am outraged and saddened by the news that Lashaun Harris, a 23-year-old mother who killed her three small children after being 'instructed' by a voice of God to do so, is going to trial and may life in prison for the crime of being a mentally ill person. Even the county psychiatrist diagnosed Lashaun with schizophrenia, but the supposedly 'social justice'-minded San Francisco District Attorney, Kamala Harris, decided to try the woman anyway.
Does the fact that Lashaun Harris is a poor, African-American mother have anything to do with the trial? Does the fact that mentally ill people can often not gain access to the services that they need because they either do not have the money to access them or the services are not available have anything to do with this? I would answer yes and yes.
Like the death of Andrew Martinez, the 'Naked Guy' from my Cal Berkeley days, that I wrote of below, this tragedy is both a personal one for Lashuan, her poor children, and their family, but also a societal tragedy. For how could it be nothing short of a tragedy when the mentally ill--whom our country has decided to cast away while we prioritize our tax dollars for 'important' things like bombing Third World countries and subsidizing corrupt corporatation--are still held responsible for their actions in the same way that mentally healthy people are.
Ironic, then, that today I look forward to celebrating the 2nd birthday of a friend's adopted child, a little African-American girl with the bright, shining eyes that only children have, and a fire and wit in her demeanor that promises many more bright things in the future. This, then, is the paradox of the world we live in. And it reminds me that it's only the beautiful, light-filled things that make the darkness bearable.