Women and children - first, be smart

Opinion: Arlene Jones

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

Two nationwide news stories have occurred over the past couple of weeks, both involving decisions made by black women, involving children. The first involves Glenda Moore, the mother of two young boys, age 4 and 2, who decided at the height of hurricane Sandy to flee their home on Staten Island to try to go to her mom's house in Brooklyn.

She drives off and her car stalls, hit by waves of water several feet high. She takes the children out of their car seats and at some point loses her grip on them, and they are washed off in the storm surge. She tries to get help, but a man in a house refused to help.

So all the news reports focused on the white man who didn't go out into a storm to help her find her children. Cries of racism abound.

Yet there has been little criticism of Moore's initial decision to take her young children out into the middle of a hurricane - a hurricane, mind you, that had been predicted for days, and if you're living on an island, you could have safely gotten the kids off of it, hours and even days in advance.

One of the first things that came to my mind when I saw the story was that in every horror movie, the problems start when the person inside the house opens their door and lets the stranger in.

I am sickened by the news that both of the children's lives were lost. And though the story is no longer in the headlines, I hope DCFS, as well as the police in New York, thoroughly investigate the "whys" and "how comes" of this story. No one wants to think that a mom could purposely harm her children until they remember Susan Smith.

Susan Smith was the woman in South Carolina who plunged her car into a lake causing her two young sons, age 3 and 1, to drown. She blamed it on a black carjacker. Moore has taken the emphasis off of herself by focusing on the white man who didn't help and not on her own stupidity.

And speaking of stupid decisions, by now a lot of people have heard of Shena Hardin. If you don't know her name, you may be familiar with her crime. Shena Hardin is the woman who couldn't wait for the school bus to unload handicapped children every morning. So she opted to ignore the bus' stop sign and take a shortcut. Her route? Up a driveway, onto the sidewalk and then down a different driveway and back onto the roadway.

She had done it a number of times and when her crime was finally caught on video by the bus driver, only then did police intervene and ticket her. But that wasn't the end. When the judge learned of her crime, she ordered Hardin to stand on the corner holding a sign that read: "Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus."

There has been a lot of debate over the public humiliation and shaming of Shena Hardin. Also, attention has been focused on Hardin's lack of remorse. Hardin did stand on the corner for two days holding the sign while wearing dark sunglasses and a hat. She also smoked and texted on her cellphone while wearing earphones.

Hardin's show of bravado was tempered by the fact that for two days, and for the rest of her life, she will be tempered by her punishment. She became "laughingstock," a target of myriad jokes and online barbs. In the world of cyberspace, she will never, ever live down her infamy.

Two different women with two different outcomes. One lost her children while the other put children's lives at risk. Both Moore and Hardin showed poor judgment.

www.arlenejones.blogspot.com

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