Why Shanesha Taylor Owes You Nothing

November 21, 2014  |  

She also says of the civil rights activist in question:

Jarrett Maupin tried to extort $4,000 from me as a donation to his political campaign. He was very angry when I threw him off my defense team in August. Maupin just got off probation for telling lies and conducting himself in a questionable manner on other cases. My attorney Benjamin Taylor brought him on board but Maupin has never advocated for me to be able to hang on to the donated funds which I need. Under pressure, I donated $500 to his campaign which made him angry that it wasn’t more. He politicized my case during his run for office where he came in last. Now he’s out speaking against me in order to cover up this “deal” of which he was a part, even though I was excluded from these secret meetings.”

The part I highlighted can not be understated. According to the press release on FBI.gov, Maupin “admitted that in September 2008, he falsely informed the FBI that a local elected official engaged in criminal activity in order to hurt the official politically.” And in case you are wondering if this is the same guy: it is. And here is a picture of him with a perm and looking like Al Sharpton Jr., standing with the real Al.

Again, I beg folks to read the entire account (I know it is long) before passing judgment. By reading Taylor’s side of the headlines, it should be real evident how so many people end up easily violating court-mandated probation. In addition to all the hoop jumping to have charges dropped, including court-mandated classes, tests and counseling, the courts also made her responsible for the cost of attending those programs which, in Taylor’s own words, amounted to $3,600 in the span of 20 weeks. How a jobless and economically insecure woman was expected to cover the cost of all of that without access to those donated dollars, is beyond my understanding. But maybe that’s the point.

I also firmly believe that Taylor’s story helps to illustrate how both racism and classism are major barriers for progress, justice and equality for Black people. While racism attacks us from outside, it is our adherence to equally damaging classist behaviors and attitudes, which slowly kills us from within. What I mean is that watching Black folks specifically throw Taylor under the bus and express disgust for “supporting her (which by the way, how many of you all actually contributed a single dime to the cause? With 12 million Black folks in this country and no more than $100,000 raised, something ain’t adding up)” with particular disgusting terms like “hood rat” and “ghetto trash,” for not transforming immediately into Clair Huxtable, work as equal partners with the very racist criminal justice system, which both oppresses and criminalize this woman, and other Black women like her.

Also, some folks need to learn how to give in general. As at the end of the day, who cares what she spent that money on? Why are you putting expectations on what amounts to a gift? The entire jaded response reminds me of the time I went to my local WaWa [convenient store for those outside of the mid-Atlantic region] and watched a man in a suit berate a homeless man, for daring to ask for change from him two days in a row, especially after he had already given him money. As we walked into the store, I reminded the man that the $2 or so you gave him previously likely wasn’t enough to raise him out of homelessness.

The same can be said for whatever remains of the $114k pledged.

In general, when it comes to giving my motto is give what you are capable of giving. And nothing more. Anything else is just ego. And your ego is not helping anyone. Or as Bird said one of Taylor’s largest donors reminds us:

I have no regrets in donating to Shanesha Taylor. I did this as a gift to her, to get her back on her feet. I don’t expect to get anything out of this because this wasn’t about me, it was about helping someone who was struggling and desperate. So often people give gifts and donations with strings attached. There were no strings…no expectations…no conditions. I question the tactics the State is using, insisting that she trade the financial freedom that donors around the world gifted to her for freedom from prosecution for these charges. It seems like a pretty unfair trade that places her back in the financial position that she was in when all this started. It doesn’t seem right to me to do that.”

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