Things That Matter

This Little Girl Went Missing And A Teacher Blamed Her Parents And Mexican Culture

It seems that these days, we’re inundated with horrific stories of children suffering abuse, going missing, or suffering at the hands of an adult that they placed their trust in. But, it’s less common to hear about a teacher’s opinions about those stories. Well, one teacher decided to weigh in on a recent abduction – and while we’d like to think that most teachers would share words of wisdom in a troubling situation, it seems that this teacher needed some education herself.

Let’s start with the abduction.

Instagram / @empressempire144

Five-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez went missing from a playground in Bridgeton, N.J., in broad daylight on September 16. It was sometime around 4pm, when Dulce and her three-year-old brother were playing together at Bridgeton City Park, after getting ice cream with their mother, Noema Alavez Perez, and a younger family member. They had only been at the park for ten minutes, when the little boy ran back to his mother, crying. It was then that Noema realized something was wrong, and went to look for her daughter. “We thought that she was just hiding, playing around and we went looking for her but we couldn’t find her,” she said in a recent interview with CBS Philadelphia

As soon as the girl’s disappearance went public, the online trolls came out.

Instagram / @hklawfirm

While Noema had notified police of the situation shortly before 5pm, she has faced intense scrutiny in the aftermath of her daughter’s disappearance. Revelations that she was 14 when Dulce was born, that the girl’s father lives in Mexico, that she once smoked marijuana and that she ate a slice of pizza after accepting her daughter’s disappearance all invoked the wrath of both online and offline critics. Because heaven forbid a mother take a break and grab a bite to eat while the police search for her daughter.

If you think matters couldn’t get any worse – this is where the teacher comes in.

Instagram / @ad12590

It was in the midst of this whirlwind of criticism against Noema that one teacher decided to join the fray on Facebook. Jennifer Hewitt Bishop, an elementary school teacher in South Jersey, responded to a post that questioned why Noema sat so far away when her children were playing in the park with, “They’re Mexican, it’s their culture. They don’t supervise their children like we do.”

The school board of where the teacher works, has taken her off of her post.

Instagram / @bring_kids_home

Once officials from Vineland Public Schools became aware of Bishop’s post, they launched an investigation into the matter, and Bishop was promptly taken out of the classroom. It’s not clear whether her absence is simply forced leave, or a suspension. However, it seemed that the school board overseeing Bishop’s position would decide on the matter this coming Wednesday. The president of the Vineland Education Association, Lou Russo, seemed reluctant to publicly condemn Bishop’s remarks, saying that comments online are “often misunderstood and taken out of context by a virtual crowd that rarely takes time to think and reflect or seek clarification before they react with verbal attacks of their own.”

Rest assured, the Twitter community also took the teacher to task.

Twitter / @dogz005

Some were quick to identify that ignorance isn’t really an excuse when it comes to racist remarks – and that Bishop should be fired. And, in fairness, racism is something that is not innate, but learned. It unequivocally doesn’t have a place in the classroom – ergo, there’s no need for racist educators, please and thank you.

Many pointed out that they shared similar parenting styles – allowing children to develop.

Twitter / @trillian215

Others were inspired to defend Noema’s parenting, in light of Bishop’s unfair commentary. In the same way that we shouldn’t blame victims of sexual assault for being assaulted, it’s not a mother’s fault if her child is kidnapped. At the end of the day, the fault still lies with the person who commits the crime – not someone who was unable to prevent the crime.

While others pointed out the teacher’s bigotry and noted it needed to be punished.

Twitter / @CopperSiren

This user smartly pointed out that people who are in positions of authority should not be perpetuating discrimination – and that it’s important to challenge bigotry when it does appear from people who wield power.

The thing is, the real focus should be placed on finding Dulce Maria Alavez – not ridiculous online commentary from a member of the community who should know better. The only positive that can be taken from this situation is that, hopefully, the teacher’s comments and ensuing media coverage can continue to keep Alavez’s profile in the spotlight while she’s missing. On that note, reports say that a light-skinned man with facial acne was seen leading Dulce away from the playground on that fateful afternoon, to a red van with tinted windows. Anyone who has information about the incident is to get in touch with either the Bridgeton police on 856-451-0033, or the State Police Missing Persons Unit at 609-882-2000, ext. 2554.

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Iowa Woman Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crime Charges After Running Over Latino and Black Children With Her Car

Things That Matter

Iowa Woman Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crime Charges After Running Over Latino and Black Children With Her Car

Photo: Polk County Jail via Associated Press

On Wednesday, an Iowa woman pled guilty to federal hate crime charges. The woman, 43-year-old Nicole Poole Franklin, intentionally hit a 12-year-old Black boy and a 14-year-old Latina with her car in 2019. The charges include two counts of violating the U.S Hate Crime Act, as Poole Franklin intended to kill the victims because of their ethnicity.

Nicole Poole Franklin admitted to authorities that she targeted the girl because she thought she looked “Mexican”. She thought the boy was an Islamic terrorist.

As part of her defense, Poole Franklin is claiming that she suffers from schizophrenia and PTSD. Since her arrest, she admitted to police officers that she smoked meth before going on her hate-filled rampage.

The incident, which happened in December of 2019, struck fear into the hearts of communities of color in Des Moines, Iowa, where the hate crimes took place. “Anytime things happen to any minority, people are concerned about what happened,” said Joe Gonzalez, the executive director of Latino Resources Inc. in Iowa. “It was a horrific thing and people were concerned — especially people of color.”

When Nicole Poole Franklin ran over the children, she injured the boy’s leg. The girl, Natalia Miranda, was knocked unconscious and hospitalized for two days.

Natalia Miranda was walking to junior high school on December 9, 2019, when Poole Franklin ran her down on the side walk. Miranda was unconscious for 40 minutes before she woke up and walked to school, where she alerted the authorities.

Natalia Miranda says she remembers the car speeding towards her, but she doesn’t remember being hit. “I was in the hospital and I tried moving, and I couldn’t get out of my bed,” the 14-year-old told KCCI. “Sitting up was the worst pain I’ve ever felt.”

As of now, prosecutors are recommending that Nicole Poole Franklin serve 27 years behind bars.

Poole Franklin is also looking at two charges of attempted murder–both of which could carry up to 25 years each. Prosecutors are recommending that she serves all of the jailtime–state and federal–at the same time.

Here’s to hoping that the justice system does what is right and puts Nicole Poole Franklin behind bars for a long time–if only to save the lives of innocent children of color whose only crime is walking down the street.

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Mexicans Travel To U.S. For ‘Vaccine Tourism’ Say It’s A Matter Of Survival

Things That Matter

Mexicans Travel To U.S. For ‘Vaccine Tourism’ Say It’s A Matter Of Survival

The United States is one of the world’s most successful countries when it comes to rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine program. So far, more than 200 million vaccines have been administered across the U.S. and as of this week anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible.

Meanwhile, in many countries around the world – including Mexico – the vaccine roll out is still highly restricted. For many, who can afford to travel, they see the best option at a shot in the arm to take a trip to the U.S. where many locations are reporting a surplus in vaccines.

Wealthy Latin Americans travel to U.S. to get COVID vaccines.

People of means from Latin America are chartering planes, booking commercial flights, buying bus tickets and renting cars to get the vaccine in the United States due to lack of supply back in their home countries. Some of those making the trip include politicians, TV personalities, business executives and a soccer team.

There is an old Mexican joke: God tells a Mexican he has only a week left to live but can ask for one final wish, no matter how outrageous. So the Mexican asks for a ticket to Houston—for a second opinion.

Virginia Gónzalez and her husband flew from Mexico to Texas and then boarded a bus to a vaccination site. They made the trip again for a second dose. The couple from Monterrey, Mexico, acted on the advice of the doctor treating the husband for prostate cancer. In all, they logged 1,400 miles for two round trips.

“It’s a matter of survival,” Gónzalez told NBC News, of getting a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. “In Mexico, officials didn’t buy enough vaccines. It’s like they don’t care about their citizens.”

Mexico has a vaccine rollout plan but it’s been too slow in many people’s opinions.

With a population of nearly 130 million people, Mexico has secured more vaccines than many Latin American nations — about 18 million doses as of Monday from the U.S., China, Russia and India. Most of those have been given to health care workers, people over 60 and some teachers, who so far are the only ones eligible. Most other Latin American countries, except for Chile, are in the same situation or worse.

So vaccine seekers who can afford to travel are coming to the United States to avoid the long wait, including people from as far as Paraguay. Those who make the trip must obtain a tourist visa and have enough money to pay for required coronavirus tests, plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars and other expenses.

There is little that is fair about the global race for the COVID-19 vaccine, despite international attempts to avoid the current disparities. In Israel, a country of 9 million people, half of the population has received at least one dose, while plenty of countries have yet to receive any. While the U.S. could vaccinate 70 percent of its population by September 2021 at the current rollout rate, it could take Mexico until approximately the year 2024 to achieve the same results.

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