Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Mitrice Richardson Didn't Have to Die

I love living in Los Angeles. From the sunny days and popping night life to the beaches and cultural diversity-- I ♥ LA. But I'm not loving how the safety of black women has been handled by SOME of our law officials. That's not to say there aren't any great officers, because there are some great men and women protecting our neighborhoods. But I have a few concerns. I've lived here for six years. Only a year or two ago I learned of a serial killer preying on black women in South Los Angeles for two decades. Ummm, I'm black, female and live near South LA. I didn't see one flier from the LAPD warning women in the community to watch their backs. Thank God the police caught the alleged killer recently. Then I learn the one-year search for Mitrice Richardson, 24, has come to a tragic end. The story is complex but basically Mitrice was arrested last year in Malibu for not paying a $89 dinner tab at a Malibu restaurant. A worker at the restaurant told police the college graduate was talking crazy as if she were on drugs. A black woman from South LA eats an expensive dinner in ritzy Malibu but can't cover it? That right there tells me something wasn't right with her. The Malibu sheriffs arrested her and later released her in the middle of the night.
For those who've never been to Malibu, it's very beautiful with a lot of cliffs, canyons and of course the ocean. The Malibu sheriffs released a young woman, who we later discover is bi-polar, late at night with no cellphone, ID, car nor money. I prayed she was alive but authorities announced Thursday they found her remains . What really upset me was LA County Sheriff Lee Baca's press conference. The family reportedly found out Mitrice's remains were discovered FROM THE MEDIA. How dehumanizing and inconsiderate. When a reporter asked him why wasn't the family informed properly( you can watch the exchange here), Baca frustratingly replied, "I just get informed a half an hour ago. You expect me to tell the father immediately?"

YES Sherriff Baca you call the father immediately when you find his daughter's body. God forbid if that were your loved one, would you want to learn their remains were discovered in a canyon at the same time as CNN??????? Since when is the family of a missing person not given time to grieve before the news is released to the press?

The family has complained about how authorities have handled this case. I shed tears when I heard Mitrice's body has been decomposing in a ravine all of this time. The sheriffs say Mitrice wasn't drunk or high so they let her go. The girl was bi-polar, how could they not have detected something was wrong? If they held her until her mother came the next morning, she would be alive today. Then there's the issue of press coverage. Mitrice's story didn't hit many TV news channels outside of Los Angeles. When women of color go missing we don't get the same coverage as an Elizabeth Smart or a Jon Benet. Some think Mitrice is getting more coverage than other missing women of color because she was a beauty queen.

Mitrice had three strikes against her that night--she was black, female and mentally ill. Dumping the mentally ill onto the streets is a big problem in LA. Then the question becomes if Mitrice was a white woman would the sheriffs have released her out into the night alone? Did they see Mitrice as some crazy black girl from the hood and didn't consider her safety? I bet if there was a serial killer targeting white women in Los Angeles, I would see it on the news everyday until the killer was found. Is every missing white woman the top news story? No. But when the news media do cover a missing person, often she's not of color. Sojourner's question still hold's today, " But ain't I a woman? "

Between the serial killers targeting black women in LA and Cleveland, the NAACP throwing Shirley Sherrod under the bus, domestic violence and HIV in our community and so much more--I feel black women have a lot of battles to fight. By battles I mean those inside and outside of the black community. Slavery ended over 100 years ago, but this idea of the black female as disposable still exists. She's sick and diseased, she's promiscuous, she's overweight, she's unmarriageable , she's black, --she's not important. And it's a idea held with non-black people and black people.

My heart hurts for the Richardson family. Another black woman left defenseless. Another black woman left to die. Rest In Peace Mitrice Richardson. Your life didn't deserve to end this way.


  1. Thank you Cocoa Fly for taking the time to report the death of this beautiful black woman. As a people, we are going to have to stop relying on the white media to help us find our missing people. I understand that CNN or any of those other outlets can get the word out quicker, but the words are not about our missing. Now we have the internet, and people are surfing the web by the millions. We must mobilize and get fliers out to the public, and not wait on the white establishment. The media is run by the white establishment, and they are going to do stories on people that look like them. This crusade will be left to the sistas because many brothers have left the black women both emotionally and physically. Rise up black people, and band together to bring our missing back home. Turn off the music that's not going to make you any money, and read a damn book. Find out what's going on in health, business, and politics, and you will be informed. Don't be fooled because ignorance is not bliss, but education is power.

  2. @ Anonymous--I agree that sistas need to ban together. I know historically we have not been warm to a women's movement and have felt that feminism shuts out the black man. But we need some kind of black women empowerment movement because of stories like Mitrice Richardson and even how so many of us rushed to the support of Chris Brown. There are brothers who left us in the cold and there are brothas who stand by our side. But, we as women need to look out for each other. The NAACP ripped Shirley Sherrod but where have they been the last year when Mitrice went missing????


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