All Articles Tagged "Texas"

Update: Texas Federal Judge Rules Hair-Braiding Laws Unconstitutional

April 24th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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 Hair-Braiding Laws


Update: Yesterday, the Texas House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass the HB 2717 bill that will deregulate the legislation imposed on the natural hair braiding business.

Previously, hair braiding trainers and beauticians had to complete barber, cosmetology and a 35-hour government-approved hair braiding course in order to teach or practice hair braiding  in salons. Hair braiding stylists also had to earn a state license. If they failed to do so, their salon or hair braiding teaching session would be raided by law enforcement, resulting in arrest. The effort to deregulate natural hair braiding has been a decade-long fight.

Isis Brantley who has been arrested several times for braiding hair without the Texas state government license says of the new bill:

“I fought for my economic liberty because I believe there is a lot of hope for young people who seek to earn an honest living. This vote by the Texas House means aspiring hair braiders from across the state are one step closer to being able to practice an ancestral art that dates back centuries, and do so without a government permission slip.”


Original Report-1/11/2015:

A federal judge in Texas ruled the laws on how hair-braiding stylists teach students how to braid were unconstitutional. The ruling was set in motion by salon owner Isis Brantley who filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Texas with the help of Institute For Justice in 2013. In the suit, The Associated Press reports, Brantley argued she was forced to take classes and exams that were unnecessary in order to receive a state-mandated license to teach hair-braiding.

Not only was the curriculum Brantley needed to study geared towards barbers when she wasn’t seeking certification for that profession, Texas also required her to convert her small hair-braiding business into a barber college and have 10 student workstations that recline, plus install a sink behind every two workstations. This meant Brantley would have to install plumbing in her salon although clientele is expected to have their hair pre-washed before braiding. The Root also notes Brantley had to spend “2,250 hours in barber school, pass four exams, and spend thousands of dollars on tuition.”

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks from Austin ruled the state regulations the excluded Brantley from receiving a certification in hair-braiding were unconstitutional and “absent ‘a rational connection with fitness or capacity to engage in’ hair braiding instruction.”

In a statement, Brantley said:

“I fought for my economic liberty because I believe there is a lot of hope for young people who seek to earn an honest living. This decision means that I will now be able to teach the next generation of African hair braiders at my own school.”

A spokeswoman from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation said she respects the judge’s decision.

Oops! Texas Board Mistakenly Passes Resolution On Reparations

June 19th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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No doubt this is one for the history books… and just in time for Juneteenth! Without realizing it, politicians in a North Texas county approved a resolution this week in support of reparations to African-Americans for slavery.

A Juneteenth resolution was passed unanimously by Dallas County commissioners on Tuesday but they thought it was a routine proclamation commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The commissioners didn’t read close enough. The resolution also included a list of injustices suffered by black Americans, and also stated in the last paragraph that blacks’ suffering should be “satisfied with monetary and substantial reparations.”

Commissioners later confessed they hadn’t read the resolution before voting, according to The Dallas Morning News. “About an hour after their vote, commissioners complained they hadn’t received copies of the resolution beforehand,” says The Huffington Post.

But they should have heard what the resolution said as it was read aloud by John Wiley Price, who introduced the measure and is the commission’s only black member.  Price noted that American Indians and Japanese-Americans are among those who have received compensation for past mistreatment.

“We are the only people who haven’t been compensated,” Price said.

While this may seem like a real move toward reparations,  the vote is non-binding, so there will be no reparations made. Still some of the leaders have noted the significance of the move.

“I am leaving my vote the way it is,” County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “This is the body’s expression of support for unity towards people, a recognition of Juneteenth.”

He later added, “I want to encourage staff to make sure that all of the commissioners have the opportunity to actually read what they are voting on before that vote in the future.”

Separately but related, if you haven’t read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ massive article in The Atlantic called “The Case for Reparations,” get on that.

Hoodwinked: 31-Year-Old High School Sophomore Arrested For False Identity

May 15th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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31-Year-Old High School Sophomore



On Mother’s Day, a Texas high school sophomore was arrested for not disclosing her real age and name. You might be thinking that doesn’t sound like much of an offense, until you realize that the sophomore, Charity Anne Johnson, is actually a 31 years old woman. Apparently, Johnson enrolled in New Life Christain School in Longview, Texas last year. To register for the school, she used the name “Charite Stevens” and, according to KLTV, entered the 30-student  school as a formerly home-schooled student who did not have transcripts. New Life Christian School stated Johnson had been enrolled since October 2013.

When she registered, Johnson gave school administrators a birth date that indicated her alleged age. Her current guardian, Tamica Lincoln,30, said Johnson sought her out in March, claiming she was 15 and needed a home because her parents died.  Lincoln told the local news:

“I sympathized with her, and invited her into my home. I took her in as a child, did her hair, got her clothes and shoes…”

Although it is unclear how Lincoln knew Johnson was using a fake identity, she along with Johnson’s mentor Paul Ward called the police and notified the school. Tuesday, May 13, it was revealed to teachers that Johnson’s identity was fake and New Life Christian School will soon send home a letter explaining the incident to parents. After her false foster situation was revealed, Lincoln reached out to various people on Facebook using Charity’s picture and found others who were  conned into being her guardian as well. The various women were located in Texas, Florida and Minnesota and stated they don’t want to be involved in Johnson’s life after the pain she’s caused. Johnson is currently in Gregg County Jail on a $500 bond., Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Judge Gives Rapist Light Sentence Because 14-Year-Old Girl “Wasn’t The Victim She Claimed To Be”

May 5th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Judge Gives Rapist Light Sentence

Dallas News

Last week an alleged rapist in Dallas, Texas, was given the lightest sentence we have ever heard of. Texas’ State District Judge Jeanine Howard sentenced 20-year-old Sir Young to five years of  deferred probation after he spends just 45 days in jail and completes 250 hours of community service. Why? Because, according to Dallas News:

The judge who issued the light sentence said Thursday that she did so in part because the girl wasn’t a virgin and “wasn’t the victim she claimed to be.”

Judge Howard initially sentenced  Sir Young to complete his community service at Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center, reports The Huffington Post, but since then, the executive director of the rape crisis center, Bobbie Villareal, said she would not allow the young man to serve there based on his criminal history. The kicker, though, according to Clutch Magazine, is if Young completes his probation, he will be able to erase the rape conviction from his record, meaning he will not be listed as a sex offender, required to refrain from pornography, or have to attend sex offender treatment, nor stay away from children. The prosecutor of the case, District Attorney Craig Watkins was, understandably, alarmed at Judge Howard’s sentencing, telling Dallas News:

“This young lady was 14 at the time she was sexually assaulted at school, and we cannot send the wrong message to rape victims who have the courage to seek justice. I am disappointed the judge would choose to give the defendant probation after he admitted guilt, but even more alarmed the judge failed to impose standard sex offender conditions of probation designed to protect society.”

Judge Howard made her decision based on the following facts reported by the Dallas News: the victim texted Sir Young, asking him to spend time with her. She agreed to have sex with him but did not consent to having intercourse on their school grounds. The court also investigated the victim’s medical documents, which indicated she had three sexual partners. It also exposed information on a pregnancy and specified she gave birth to a baby.

The rape took place in October 2011; Sir Young was 17 years of age at the time and his victim, 14. The victim’s mother told press her daughter was never pregnant. Both the victim and Young testified last week, with the teen girl telling the court she repeatedly said “no” and “stop” before and during the attack at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Young pleaded guilty to the charges. Judge Howard asked the victim if she cried during the attack and the victim told her she cried afterwards.

WFAA reports that after Young serves his 45-day jail sentence, he will have also have to serve two days in jail on the anniversary of the rape during his probation period. After the trial, Young apologized to his victim and publicized his engagement as well as the fact that his fiancee is expecting a child this year.

After hearing the verdict, the victim said she wishes she never went to the authorities, remarking “ everything I went through was for nothing. It would have been better for me not to say anything.”

For information on this case, watch the news video below.

Father Kills Teenage Boy After Daughter Lies About Sneaking Him Into Her Room

March 14th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Father Kills Teenage Boy

Source: KHOU

Let this story serve as a cautionary tale to all the young ones out here. If you’re going to break your parents’ rules, as most of you will, be sure that you own up to it once you get caught.

A 16 year old girl in Texas didn’t do this and a boy lost his life because of it.

Johran McCormick, a 17 year old, was shot and killed by a protective father. According to KHOU, the 16 year old girl snuck McCormick into the home and in her bedroom. Her younger brother went to say goodnight to her and noticed two feet sticking out from under the bed. He went and told his father.

The father walked in and questioned both the young boy and his daughter but the girl claimed she didn’t know McCormick. The father called 911 but an argument ensued before the police could arrive. The father told deputies that McCormick dropped his hands to grab something and that’s when he opened fire. The boy died at the scene.

No one else was injured but the father was transported away from the home on a stretcher as he complained he wasn’t feeling well.
Authorities said the man appeared to be on several medications.

The family had recently moved to that home from a nearby neighborhood.

McCormick’s mother had this say about the situation, “I would like my baby back, but I know that’s not possible. A call you know, I’m sorry. He didn’t deserve to die like that.”

He surely didn’t.

Stories like this always break my heart because all of this could have been avoided. We won’t even discuss the fact that she shouldn’t have snuck the little boy in her room. Teenagers will be teenagers. But instead of lying saying that she didn’t know the boy, she should have been honest, owned up and accepted the consequences.

The father was right to call the police and the little boy should have never tried to argue with him. This is the reason why I was vehemently against my own dad getting a gun for our home. People who own guns are always looking for an excuse to use them. And I’m sure at 2 o clock in the morning everything and everyone is threat. Trigger fingers are real even when you’re just trying to protect your family.

Either way, he should call McCormick’s family and apologize. His mother is right he didn’t deserve to die like that.

What do you make of this story? Who’s to blame?

“My Dad Is From Nigeria, My Mom Is From Texas”: Why Tracing My Roots Is So Important

March 7th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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I never realized how important it is to know where you come until I moved to New York City.

I can remember the day I moved into my first apartment by myself, less than a week after moving into the city. A neighbor that lived below me introduced himself and had a thick but charming accent. As ignorant as it probably sounds now, after exchanging pleasantries, I asked him, “So what part of Africa are you from?”

As the sheltered daughter of a Nigerian, I honestly assumed most black people I encountered with accents probably were from West Africa. But that was not the case for this jolly older man, skin a rich chocolate, accent something I had never heard before.

“No, no, no, I’m not from Africa,” he shook his head and said. “I’m from Guyana…in South America?”

“Awwwww okay, I’m sorry,” I said.

While I might have apologized, my first thought was, “Where is that?”

As I settled in here, navigated the different neighborhoods by myself and with friends, and went to parades and festivals, I encountered an array of cultures that I could appreciate. With these cultures were very proud people who put the flags of their countries and islands in their apartment windows, in their cars, on their shirts, and even wore handkerchiefs with the country or island on them on their heads at the gym. It was nice to get to know about other people’s cultures, but I had my own that I needed to respect and embrace.

I’m actually very lucky in that sense. My father, as I somewhat previously stated, is from Benin City in Nigeria, which is in Edo State (Sorry to disappoint the people who always ask if I’m Yoruba or Igbo, I’m neither). I knew this information since I was young, but that was about all I knew. We weren’t taught the language. We didn’t really eat food a lot of my Nigerian friends and their family ate, aside from my dad’s take on fufu. We didn’t practice a lot of the cultural traditions, including curtsying for our elders, and we even called our aunts and uncles, Aunt ___ or Uncle ___, even though I would later learn that these things could be incredibly offensive (my auntie literally yelled at me one day when she thought I called her solely by her name–so after being briefed on things, I just call her auntie). However, our extended family members were well aware of the fact that my brothers and sisters and I were the odd relatives, so Americanized that during my first visit to my father’s city, one of them called my dad a Yankee. Something he was furious about and that at the age of 13, didn’t realize how insulting such a statement was.

Once I started living here and started traveling to Benin City more, I tried to engross myself in everything that I could. I picked up some Bini that I spoke with my sister and my uncle (and still speak with that aunt who yelled at me when I visit her in the Bronx); I ate all the food that caused my sinuses to drain as I could; I bought as many coral beads as my bag could carry before I returned home; I wrote down all the names of my many cousins (more than 40) and started learning how to cook an array of dishes I saw made in Benin City and just at the homes of my aunts and uncles. Jollof rice, fried rice, Efo, and so on and so forth. I still have so much to learn (which my Nigerian friends and boyfriend love to remind me of), but I feel more connected to that part of my culture now than I ever have in the past.

But on the other side of things, I know very little about where my mother comes from. When people ask me about my last name (Uwumarogie) and say, ‘What is that?’ I say “My dad is from Nigeria!” And when they ask me about my mother, the reply is a shrug and “My mom is from Austin, Texas.” All I know of my mother’s side of the family is that they are all over Texas, and as far as my family tree goes for them, Texas is the beginning and the end. But I’m not okay with living with just that information.

I know I’m incredibly blessed because I can say that my father and his family are from Nigeria. They were born there, and those who moved abroad are moving back to die there (my uncle just retired there to start businesses and live happily in the place of his childhood). But there’s another part of me that’s missing. I want to know where I come from not only for myself, but for my mother. My mother, a woman from Austin, Texas who tries her best to welcome and be a part of my father’s culture, even though some relatives say she’s not doing enough to understand the language or practice the customs, or try to speak Bini in front her of face to talk about her, figuratively, behind her back. A woman who told at the Nigerian embassy that she was trying to be Nigerian by marrying a Nigerian man in the process of our family collecting our visas.  All the geles and Ankara fabric doesn’t seem to make a difference.

I’ve already made big strides through my family tree on, but seeing the results my colleagues have obtained just from a tiny saliva sample has me excited for the possibilities. Before my mother’s family members were working day and night to keep a roof over their heads in Texas, including doing so with limited education in the 1800s, they were in Africa, living and thriving. In honor of them, I would like to uncover their roots. My roots.

White Teen Placed In Child Protective Services After Traveling With Two Black Men

December 3rd, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Landry Thompson


A dance troupe has claimed to be victims of racial profiling while traveling in Texas. Houston police reportedly stopped the troupe when they saw a white female and two black males sharing a vehicle. Landry Thompson, the white female who is 13 years old, told KHOU-TV she and her dance partner along with their instructor were approached by policemen at 3 a.m. when they stopped at a Houston gas station.

Although the trio told police they were a dance group from Tulsa, Oklahoma and had spent the day recording a dance video with a local Houston group called Planet Funk Academy, the officers didn’t believe their story. According to the Daily News, Landry stated:

 “They were convinced I was a runaway. ”

So Landry, her dance partner Josiah Kelly, 22, and their dance instructor, 29-year-old Emmanuel Hurd, were taken into custody by the police. Once at the station, the police called Landry’s mother, Destiny Thompson, to confirm her story. The policeman who spoke to Thompson allegedly stated: “Are you aware that your daughter is with two black men?”

After Thompson told the officer she knew of her daughter’s whereabouts, he then began to question her parenting. Thompson mentioned to the officer that her daughter is home schooled so she can focus on building her professional dance career which often gives her the opportunity to travel on the road. Thompson also noted to the policemen that Hurd had paperwork that showed Landry had permission to be away from home.

“Emmanuel had a letter signed by us, had every contact number they could’ve possibly needed,” Destiny Thompson said.

After thoroughly explaining her daughter’s predicament, the police officers  told her she would have to drive to Houston to get Landry who was placed in Houston’s Child Protective Services. Although Hurd and Kelly were not charged, they are considering taking legal action against Houston’s authorities. They waited for Landry to be released from Child Protective Services, six hours later from the time she was initiated into the system.

Houston Police Department did not give a comment on the actions which took place but refuted the dance troupe’s claim of racial profiling. The department told KHOU-TV:

“Given the age discrepancies … and the child had no relatives in the area, officers in an abundance of caution, did their utmost to ensure her safety.”

Below is the KHOU-TV news report on this incident.

Do you think Landry should have been traveling alone with Hurd and Kelly? 

Huh? Texas Mother Gives Birth To Twins With Different Fathers

September 27th, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Source: NBC News

Source: NBC News

Last year, Texas woman, Mia Washington didn’t plan on giving birth to twins but when she did she ended up getting even more than she bargained for — her fraternal sons have two different fathers. You are probably wondering, how did this happen so allow us to explain.

As you know, every month a woman releases one egg from her ovaries that can be fertilized by sp*rm. As for Washington, she released a pair of eggs. According to Dr. Hilda Hutcherson of Columbia University who reported to TODAY News:

“sp*rm can remain alive and well and viable for up to five days in the reproductive tract. Thus, a woman can have sex with different men within those five days and the sp*rm just kind of hang out there waiting for the egg to be released.”

Washington, who is 20 years old,  had sex with another man a few days after she slept with her 44-year-old  boyfriend, James Harrison — hence her double conception. James investigated the issue when he noticed the twins, Justin and Jordan, who were born seven minutes,apart looked very different, even for fraternal twins. He requested a paternity test and discovered Justin was not his child. When Harrison found out the news he was devastated:

“I was hurt, torn apart — didn’t know what the next move was gonna be.”

Although he was hurt, Harrison continued to raise Justin as his own. And despite the odds of a situation like this, this is not the first time twins have been born to different fathers. Studies have revealed 1 to 2 percent of fraternal twin births have different fathers, but this often goes unnoticed. The terminology used to identify this type of birth is called: “heteropaternal superfecundation”. It was reported on first by John Archer who was the first doctor to receive a medical degree in the United States in 1810. Archer dubbed the term when a white woman had sex with two men, black and white  and later gave birth to twin boys. One son was white whereas the other was of mixed race.

As for Mia Washington and James Harrison, they plan on marrying each other in the future. And in the mean time, they will prepare for their new family addition- a baby girl. She will add some sweet and spice to their clan of three boys  (Washington has a 4-year old from a previous relationship).

Watch Mia Washington’s interview with TODAY News below.

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Somebody Come Get This Fool: Man Tries To Access Michelle Obama’s Bank Account Claiming To Be Adopted Son

August 15th, 2013 - By Clarke Gail Baines
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You know you can’t be the brightest criminal in the world when you go to the bank, claim to be the child of someone, and actually think that will gain you access to their bank account. And to claim that the special someone is Michelle Obama of all people, you have to be highly confused. But a man in Texas tried to do all this recently and seriously thought someone was going to believe him.

According to the Huffington Post, the man, named Johnnie Fletcher Gooden, Jr. walked into a Chase bank in Bryan, Texas and told a teller he was the newly-adopted son of Michelle Obama. Mind you, this man is grown as hell, 29 years old at that, living in a completely different state than the Obamas, talking about he’s “newly adopted.” Gooden did this on Saturday morning, and told the teller that he had been formally adopted into the family the day before. Despite his best efforts, the teller informed him that she didn’t even have an account with Chase, but he wasn’t trying to leave after the fact.

Police were called to the scene and Gooden allegedly tried to explain to them that the FLOTUS had personally contacted him via Facebook, asking him to join the family. Fool-proof plan, right!? Unfortunately for him, not only was this plan terrible, but police looked him up via a background check and found that he had outstanding warrants for resisting arrest and assault.

And he had marijuana in the pocket of his shorts. All bad.

Gooden was of course arrested and is currently being held on $52,000 bail for his assault charge. The struggle is real folks, so much so that people are out here trying to be claimed by the wife of the leader of the free world. C’mon Johnnie…C’mon!

Sad News: Woman Killed On Roller Coaster At Six Flags In Texas

July 21st, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Texas Giant (courtesy CBS 11)

This might be the reason why many people are scared of amusement parks.

On Friday evening, a woman fell to her death on a roller coaster ride at Six Flags over Texas. Accord to CBS News, the woman has been identified as Rosy Esparza and it was her first time at the Arlington, Texas amusement park.

Neither Six Flags nor law enforcement officials would comment on how this unfortunate and tragic incident occurred but many witness say Esparza was a little uncomfortable with her safety on thrill ride, Texas Giant.  They say she didn’t think her lap bar was locked in properly.

Other witness say she got on the ride with her son and when she was presumably ejected from the ride, he started screaming, “My mom, my mom — we’ve got to get my mom… she’s gone.”

Six Flags released the following:

“We are deeply saddened to share that earlier this evening an adult woman died in the park while on the Texas Giant. Park medical staff and local paramedics responded immediately. Since the safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority, the ride has been closed pending further investigation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends during this difficult time.”

The Texas Giant is a 23 year old wooden ride that went under a $10 million renovation back in 2010. This is the first incident of its kind.

Our condolences to the victim’s family.