An Open Letter to Hillary Rodham Clinton from Taylar Nuevelle

Dear Ms. Rodham Clinton:

See I even remember your “maiden” name. However, you know nothing about me, yet I receive dozens of emails from your campaign daily. The reason I am on your mailing list is because a month after I was officially released from the custody of Bureau of Prisons (I was on home confinement wearing an ankle monitory thus still in BOP Custody) I sent your campaign $11 as you paved the way to being the Democratic Nominee.

 

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I did not want to feel the “Bern” because personally not only did it smack of straight white male privilege (let’s all be clear Bernie Sanders is riding on the shoulders of all the white male presidents and their privilege that came with such a status—something President Obama did not have). I realize that the hateful comments and linking you to your husband who violated a young woman and then let her suffer the trauma of his abuse—was/is not you. I have had to listen to my friends tell me I am confused about supporting you. However, my reasons are complex. First of all, the reason that Black men received the right to vote before women was sexism. Frederick Douglass was an outspoken advocate for voting rights for women. However, he was also a sexist and explained that first Black men should have the right to vote and then he would fight for the right for women to vote. I see you in this light.

When you launched your campaign for the 2008 democratic nomination I supported you up and until the 2008 Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. Why? Because you made a comment about some White man doing more for the civil rights movement than Mr. King. You lost me Ms. Rodham Clinton and I am happy that I gave my support to President Obama. I was a free woman then and had extra cash to donate.

Now I believe it is your turn. Yet you are turning me off. Do not get me wrong. I am going to vote for you because the only other choice is that Sociopath, Orange, bad comb over Donald Trump. I will vote for you because if I don’t vote and Trump wins I am a part of the problem. I will vote for you because if I vote for some third party unknown person this could cause problems and sadly Trump could become our President. I will vote for you because no matter how much White Privilege you have, and racist things you have perpetuated in the past, I know that you are a woman and sexism is alive and thriving in this country. So, yes you have my vote.

What you don’t have is my support. For now that is. I will not campaign for you. Someone phoned me the other night and I explained to her what I am about to explain to you. And I will not be giving you any money in hopes of winning a visit with you. I deserve a visit from you so that you can learn something about women in prison and when we return home.

 

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When I gave you those $11 back in February 2015, I was making barely $500.00 a month at a very part-time job. Since that time I have waited for you to speak out about women in prison and the conditions we suffer under a male constructed system that is run and operated by men. You have said very little.

I had a fairly high profile case. Was tried in the courthouse where my ex who was the complaining witness was a sitting judge—no venue change for me. I received poor counsel as Judge Cannon (appointed by your husband I believe) threatened any attorney that mounted a true defense for me. In fact my attorney was awaiting the approval for his application at the DC Superior Court as a magistrate judge and Cannon told me that he had written a letter of recommendation for my attorney. My attorney Dorsey Jones, told me flat out, “I will not cross examine your accuser to impeach her.” My attorney was caught by one of my witnesses agreeing with the prosecutor not to put on certain evidence in my defense and when this information was given to Judge Cannon he ignored it.

Judge Cannon sentenced me and stated at my sentencing hearing, “You have borderline personality disorder and you cannot be helped.” Yet I do not have this disorder and even if I did, why would he become Judge and Psychologist. He ignored the probation department’s recommendations that I receive therapy and no jail time, as this would be the worse thing for me as there was so much evidence of the childhood abuse I had survived and the domestic violence perpetrated against me by my ex-husband.

And yet I spent over four years incarcerated, received very little treatment (for what I do suffer from—Complex PTSD, Acute Anxiety and Major Depressive Disorder)—I am a trauma survivor.  I was bullied by officers, sexually and physically abused by fellow inmates and no amount of silent screams could help me. My intelligence was seen as a threat and I often found myself in the Segregated Housing Unit (SHU) locked up while already being locked up, but isolated from phone calls, emails and assistance. No one spoke for me. When I was not being unjustly punished in the SHU, I was often on suicide watch. No one spoke for me. Now, no one speaks for my fellow female inmates in this current climate of criminal justice reform.

President Obama made a big show of visiting a Federal Male Prison and to-date he has not publicly acknowledged that women are the fastest growing group of inmates and are usually the primary caregiver of school age children when they go to prison. No one with power such as you has spoken publicly on a national level about what I call the Trauma-to Prison Pipeline for women and girls. No one like you has even visited a female prison or jail.

Thus, that $11 was given to your campaign and I walked instead of taking public transportation, as that was my weekly money for travel. That $11 was given with hope that you, a woman, would take up our torch and begin to speak for us. Instead, silence. You have an opportunity Ms. Rodham Clinton. There are so many women who have returned home and who are still incarcerated that need your support. Will you show your support and speak for us? Who Speaks for Me? I’m free now and I am still often silenced

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Sincerely,

Taylar Nuevelle
Survivor, Mother, Advocate

We Don’t Say Shut-up—We Say Be Quiet

Most of you know me as Taylar and from my writings you might remember that my nickname was “Cookie” growing-up. In fact to family and some old school friends I am still Cookie—just look at my Facebook page. Before I was blessed with the name of Cookie, I was “Sugar Cookie”. Sugary sweet in looks and silence. I was not a baby that ever cried. Then I learned to speak and though I have no memory of sugar cookie meme_7-10-2016ever being called Sugar Cookie, the stories of how I changed to just plain old Cookie are forever etched in my soul memory.

My mother, Claudia, if given the opportunity to this day will say, “Thas why you ain’t Suga Cookie. ‘Cause you mean.” I do not give her these opportunities any more. My brothers tell me this as well. The younger one can go to hell, but my older brother he loves to tell the story and remind me in heated discussions, “See. You ain’t sweet. You just Cookie and you don’t know when to shut up. That’s why Ma always was beatin’ you.”

Outside of my family growing up, I do not have many memories of people telling me to shut-up. The foster homes I lived in were not always the best, but no one really said, “Shut-up Cookie.” Mostly it was, “You just don’t know when to stop.” In high school I had an ongoing battle with my chemistry teacher. I was the only black student during that particular class, and in total I think there were only three black students in all of her chemistry classes combined. Ms. O’Neil was her name and she loved to make me go to the black board after a test and demonstrate the problems I had gotten wrong. I told her she was wicked and old and she needed to give up teaching.

Then it came time for our referrals for the following year’s courses. Each teacher had to sign off on what course the student wanted to take. I had no issues with any of my teachers moving on to AP and GT courses. When it was time for my class with Ms. O’Neil, she called us up one by one according to last name and announced that she was agreeing or not agreeing to our choices. I had selected physics, although I did not need any further sciences for my advanced diploma. When I handed Ms. O’Neill my slip for the next year, she laughed and announced to the class, “I wouldn’t even recommend you for Earth and Space.” Earth and Space was the remedial course for Earth Science. I looked at her and said very loudly, “You old racist bat. I don’t need your damn approval. The committee will decide.” She turned so red and slapped her hand on the desk and replied, “Shut-up. Just Shut-up.” And I smirked at her—a look that often caused my mother to threaten, “Someday somebody gonna knock that smirk off yo face (still smirking and standing I am)—and said, “Your old. You’re racist and I hope you have a heart attack.”

Then I walked out of her class. I was placed in another chemistry class for the remainder of the year. However, right after that quarter’s grades came out and they counted her F (she was the chair of the science department) against the A I had received from the new class I ended up with a C and I was livid. I raged through the halls announcing, “I hope that old bitch has a heart attack.” This was on a Friday. The following Monday we were told that Ms. O’Neill had suffered a massive heart attack and would be retiring. I smirked. One of my friends told me I was scary.

Life went on and it seems that my inability to “Keep my mouf shut,” followed me. By the time my son was three he was in pre-school part-time and sadly he had heard plenty of arguments between his father and me. One day I was explaining to my now EX-husband (of 17 years), that I was tired of the racism from his family We dont say shut up meme_7-10-2016that came and went and that they were no longer welcome to phone our home and there would be no more visits until we dealt with the issues appropriately. In fact I yelled, “I will not participate in perpetuating racism in my own home. I don’t give a fuck who is doing it.” He yelled back, “Just shut-up Taylar. Shut-up! Shut-up!” Before I could respond, out pops our son from his room, “We don’t say shut-up. We say be quiet” Then he grabbed my hand for confirmation and his father said, “That’s right we don’t say shut-up.”

In prison it was the same thing, because I do not know how to be silent in the face of injustice. If I saw an officer yelling or mocking fellow inmates, I would just walk by and remind the air of how staff had rules of engagement just like we inmates. Oh there were constant shit shows with me and officers yelling, “Nuevelle! Nuevelle! Shut-up and mind your business.” I would smirk and say, “Following the policies and procedures of the BOP is my business.” Other times I would become my three-year-old son and say, “Pardon me, but we don’t say shut-up, we say be quiet.” I received so many incident reports for “Insubordination, “ and “Interfering with the safe running of the facility.” I was once even written up for, “Attempting to start a riot.” That’s not even a code. As I unpack I have come across all of my “Shots” (incident reports) and my responses to them. I never lost one good day, so that tells you something about the authenticity of the accusations. Yet, I lost so much more and the trauma from the fight of surviving prison lives deep inside of me. But I never shut-up.

Recently, someone did something so humiliating and emotionally abusive to me in front of others, and I sat quietly and spoke very little. There are so many ways to tell a person to shut-up—and lies are one way.  This person lied and attempted to trigger my mental health struggles as this individual knows me well. I wanted to rage, but I could hear the Universe telling me, “Shh. Just be quiet.” Then this person went even further and attempted to abuse me further with more mendacity and I became enraged and wanted to take to my computer and scream in writing the lies, hurt and backstabbing. Yet, I heard a whisper, to just be still and quiet.

While I do not want to be sugary sweet because I am being silenced, neither do I want to be spitting out bile.

Here is what I’m learning, when the time is right I will be quiet. At other times I will not shut-up. When I have the space and support then I am able to hear and be still and then the time will come that I will stand up and speak-up and I will not buddah_chill homeyShut-Up. I’m still standing and smirking. If you get it in your head to tell me to “Shut-up,” take a look at my smirk and worry, I have stories to tell and evidence to back it up. Do not get to comfortable with the fact that I have chosen to be quiet.

Taylar Nuevelle
Survivor

Timing on my Side v. Suicide on my Shoulder

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Last Thursday, a property management company sent me a letter that stated they could not rent to me because I had a felony in one or more of the categories they searched. I spent the weekend on the couch; physically ill thinking that life will always be a struggle. I do not ever remember not fighting to survive. My earliest memories are of praying for death. Suicide is always a constant companion—sometimes stronger and at other times a wisp of a thought.

This morning I checked my email and a friend sent me a link to the NPR article, Denying Housing Over Criminal Record May Be Discrimination, Feds Say, by Camila Domonoske. I sent the article to the Executive Vice President of the property management company—the woman who had sent me the letter stating I had been denied housing in a building they manage without even knowing why I went to prison.

As soon as she received the email she called me and said, “It doesn’t matter to us why we do not rent to criminals. We have a blanket policy.” I literally cried as I tears_burn my skintried to explain my charges. She responded, “We don’t need to know your charges we do not rent to criminals.” I asked, “Will you please reconsider?” She responded, “No. We are not discriminating against you. Our company policy is that we do not rent any of the properties we manage to criminals.”

 

“Psst?” Suicide called to me. “It’s never gonna get better. Come and sleep forever in peace with me.” she ran away in her sleep_suicide quote

 

 

 

 

I drank some coffee and pushed my constant lover “Suicide” to my shoulder and out of my ear and heart and took to social media. Then a co-worker, who knew nothing about what had just happened to me, sent out the HUD press release. Another friend sent me a Facebook response with a link to the complaint process and I completed the form and submitted it. I posted in a private Facebook group for prison reform and the posting was shared.

I called the organization that owns the apartment complex and left a voicemail and then sent them an email with the articles and press release attached. I sat with my supervisor who is also my friend Dalton Collins and I vented and held back tears. He told me that he cares about me and that I—and none of those returning from prison or currently incarcerated—do not deserve such treatment. Dalton is amazing and one of the kindest, most loving humans on this earth—he walks in Grace.

Yet, I kept hearing Suicide whispering. She refused to get behind me.

Then I received a voicemail and email from the Vice President of the property management company asking me to please call her. “Well,” she said, “I received a different report from HUD than what you sent me.” I interrupted, “No I sent you that one as a follow-up.” She continued, “Considering the new guidelines I have reconsidered your application and if you want the apartment you are approved.” I responded, “Yes. I still want it.”

Suicide whispered, “It’s not real. It won’t happen. I’m your safety net.”

Then she stated, without apology, “Timing was on your side.” I responded, as I brushed my lover Suicide off my shoulder, “No. God, Grace and Justice are on my side.” She said “Alrighty.” Then she gave me instructions on contacting the property manager and viewing the units available tomorrow.

Timing v. Suicide. Be careful what you say. Be careful how you treat people. Timing was on my side today, but not in the way the property manger believes. Timing of people walking this walk with those of us reentering society from prison I encounter daily through work and as friends, and many of those who work where I do, and yes social media—they give us time so we can hush the voices that tell us life is not worth living.

Organizations like Suck It Suicide and Live Through This give us time when Suicide whispers in our ears and sits upon our shoulders because society tells us we are not worthy.Suck It Suicide_Shirt

This is not about me. It is about us. “What will you do with your gifts?

Taylar Nuevelle
Survivor

 

Gaslighting (Lifetime)

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Gaslighting, I learned the term while in the halfway house after prison. I’ve survived it my entire life.

Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.

My mother used to do this thing (and she still does it but she is no longer a part of my life so I’m free of her), where she would harm me and then say I exaggerated. For example, she was convinced one summer when I was nine years old, that I did not clean my neck properly. I have skin discolorations all over my body in weird spots and there is one right on my throat—I’m “two toned” my fourth grade teacher explained.

One evening my mother told my sister to go get and wet an S.O.S. steel wool pad and Ajax. When my sister handed the things to my mother, Claudia (the mother) taylar neck discolorationcalled me over and said, “You jus filthy n’ Ima have ta do you like my fatha had ta do my sista Delsie n’ clean ya neck.” She pointed to the slight discoloration and told me that my entire neck area should be that color and she scrubbed with the S.O.S pad and Ajax until my neck was raw and the meat glistened through torn and bloodied skin. When finished she said, “Now that’s how ya neck should look.” I did not cry I did not flinch.

10 years later I decided to visit my mother and her new husband in Texas. We sat in a park and she looked at my neck and said, “You still got that spot on ya neck.” I smirked. I looked at her and said—in front of her new husband who did not know that I wasn’t just away at college, but I had been removed from her and placed in foster care (to this day she denies that I was ever in foster care—gaslighting!)—“You remember when you scrubbed my neck raw, down to the meat because you thought my neck was dirty?” Claudia answered, “Now Cookie (my nickname since birth) you always gotta exaggerate. You know you neva cleaned yo’self well especially yo’ neck.”

I smirked. “Really?” I asked her. “So, you think that the way to clean a child’s neck is by using S.O.S pads and Ajax?” She laughed, showing her false teeth (she was only 42, but childhood poverty robbed her of her teeth at age 35). “It worked. Yo neck was clean and it wasn’t that bad. You didn’t cry or flinch.” She ended with, “Why you gotta always be so crazy about stuff. I didn’t hurt you. You were dirty.”

In prison there was so much gaslighting of me by administrators, correctional officers, psychological staff and fellow inmates, that it will fill a chapter in a book and I am too raw right now to go into it. It almost did me in but “I just had to live.”

Once we women return home we are subjected to a different form of gaslighting because we are serving a life sentence. My friend J phoned me the other day in tears because the company where she is working a temporary to permanent job is gaslighting her. She does work that involves medical confidentiality. However, they know her criminal history and although there were enough spots to hire her they intentionally trained the other temporary employees in special areas and constantly gave her random work so that when the time came for applying for the open positions she was not a good candidate because she had not been given a fair chance. She also reported that one of the women violated the HIPPA laws and that woman got the job.

When J spoke wit her direct supervisor and the head of the department they began to play this game and tried to convince her that she was confused. The human resource department became involved and J was told that she misunderstood and that none of the temps were given preferential training. All the other women were hired, but not J. They were all white, unprofessional, but with no criminal history. J is black.

J said to me, it’s a life sentence. Through tears she sobbed, “This felony is my lifetime and my life will never get any better.”

Here is the thing, lying and colluding with others to support your lies is Gaslighting. Just because a shoe fits, does not mean you should wear it!

Mitigating an abuser’s actions towards others assists with the gaslighting. This has been my message to J and to all the survivors of prison abuse and reentry gaslighting in their search for a new life and employment: Document. Document. Document. Gaslighting is an experience that empowers the abuser and causes the victim to feel insane, full of shame and apologetic.

do no harm but take no shitKnow who you are and stand on your truth and if no one will listen take a step back, move to the side and walk around and away from those who are aiding and abbeting the Gaslighter. We have survived prison (many unjustly incarcerated), we have survived abuse prior to prison, and we will survive the gaslighters and their supporters as they attempt to make us the problem. We will be the solution. Regardless if we are women formerly or currently incarcerated. Do not be silenced. We know what insanity looks like and too often it goes hand in hand with abuse.

I will “Rage. Rage. Against the dying” of my light and I will not “…go gentle into that” world of silence. Join me in this movement against gaslighting it has no smell but it exist and is deadly.

Taylar Nuevelle

 

 

 

 

 

Adult Bullying

 

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Growing up I knew, although I could not articulate it, that the grown-ups in my world were bullies. I hated the abuse, but I also just despised the absolute disregard of me as a human with feelings and needs. Green peas from a can made me puke as a child—the smell would gag me and this was seen as disrespectful. My body repelled and grown-up bullies denied my physical reactions and forced their expectations on how I was to behave regarding food that made me physically ill.

There is a big (physically and figuratively) bully in my life. There are lots of bullies in my life regarding the system I am caught up in, but that is institutional bullying and I am validated every time I encounter bureaucratic bullying—it’s not just me they are oppressing.

However, this individual bully is wreaking havoc on my physical and emotional well-being. What is worse is that the people that validate me in other ways are behaving like the adults used to when I was a child gagging at the reeking smell and taste of green peas. These adults stand around and tell the grown-up me that I need to “Be the bigger person.” Or, “Just ignore it.” I go silent. I choke down bile and disappear. The bully just gets bigger and bigger. The bully attacsilenced lips_with wordks more and I am forced to swallow and be silent.

When I break and fight back I am told, “This is not professional.” I am chastised with, “You play a part in this too. I am trying to deescalate this and your response is not helping.” I disappear. I float away and no one realizes I am gone. This is how I silence the voices dictating to me about how I Should Be Reacting to abuse of my psyche and the out right ignoring of my fear and shame. I disassociate—bad coping skill.

And then I smell green peas and I am back in my body running to the toilet to gag and puke up the bile I have been swallowing for months.brown woman vomiting_cartoonThe only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good [people] do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

Stop telling me how I should react to abuse. Stop. Just. Stop. Do not say what I should say or how I should react. Deal with the Adult Bullies in this world. Otherwise you become a tool of the bully and thus a bully. And for the sake of all that is good do not ever tell me to Calm Down when I am reacting to being abused and in the process of Recovery from Trauma.

This is healing. This is my truth. My story. There is a song, but it cannot be sung until we act and do things accordingly. Trauma Lens please.

Taylar Nuevelle
Really Who Speaks for Me?

 

Say My Name. Say My Name.

When I was a little girl, about six or so, the movie Roots was released. I sat on the white carpet in front of the television and my sister, brothers, mother and step-father were spread out in the living room—silence. That is until the scene where Kunta Kinte is whipped.

I remember my palms sweating and my heart racing and praying that he would not say, “My name is Toby.” When he finally caved in I must have yelped and my mother asked, “You woulda let ‘em kill you wouldn’t you?” I nodded yes, and she responded, “That’s cause you crazy.”

The first time I was beat and forced to call myself something other than my name I was 13. My mother was pissed off at my older brother because he fell down the stairs and broke the wooden banister. Instead of arguing and fussing at him she said, “I can’t have nothin’ nice. You and yo’ sista just retarded.” Now I had nothing to do with this situation. I was in my room reading. However, since she chose to insert me, I chose to speak up. My brother slipped out of the house right after I walked up to my mother and said, “Me ‘n my brotha ain’t retarded.” This is when I still remembered how to speak my first language.

I went on (because I’ve never known when to stop when lies are spoken instead of truth), “On our birf certificate it say healthy boy and girl.” I had no idea what was on the birth certificates. I just knew that I was considered an ATP (Academically Talented Person) and my brother…well he struggled, but he was not and is not intellectually challenged. My mother beat my head up against the wall, bloodied my lips and demanded far too long for me to, “Say. It. Say it. Say you retarded.” I had forgotten how to cry five years earlier as well as how to feel pain. But when I began to see double, and there was blood on her and the walls, I knew I was in trouble and I whimpered, “I’m retarded.”

My fellow inmates called me crazy. “Hey Cray-Cray.” “She smart as shit but that bitch is Crazy.” “Just call her Crazy.” “Hey Crazy. What’up? I need yo’ help wif some legal stuff.” Rumors flew around that I had gotten people 10 years off their sentences—which was not true, I think five was the most—but I was still, “Crazy” “Cray-Cray.”

Then there was a horrible lieutenant named Oakes. Even in his boots I stood taller than him and he despised me because I successfully had one of the Correctional Officers (CO) reprimanded for mistreating me. One day in the dining hall at Alderson Federal Prison Camp (FPC Alderson) there was a shit show with a fellow inmate and me. Precisely she was calling me a snitch and some other unsavory things because the staff did not understand that the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) also is designed to protect women from women.

Lieutenant Oakes stepped up to me and pointed and yelled, “Neville!” Now this jackass knew my name and so I said, “It’s Nuevelle. Like new plus veil.” Then he stepped closer and I couldn’t hear because I go deaf when I am shamed and there is background noise. He was standing too close and so I couldn’t use my coping skill of reading lips. According to Oakes I yelled, “Please take five steps back.” I do not recall yelling. I remember not being able to hear and he was standing too damn close for me to read his lips and thus understand his “direct order”. I was written up, accused of disobeying a direct order and insubordination and interfering with the smooth running of the facility. I unraveled, not quite sure how, but the next thing I knew I was in a turtle suit on suicide watch.

This same Lieutenant came to the suicide watch room and yelled and kicked the door and demanded that I say my name was, “Inmate.” He screamed and pounded on the door in front of a CO, “Say it. Say your name is Inmate. You’re just an Inmate.” I stopped eating instead. Which gave me power over the entire staff. The kitchen officers and chief psychologist jumped through hoops to figure out what to feed me. It was empowering, but a bad coping skill. If you miss nine meals in a row, the Bureau of Prison (BOP) has a right to force feed you with a tube. I got to meal eight and demanded fried chicken and cinnamon rolls.

On Tuesday, I had to check in with the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia (CSOSA) as this is the organization that is the “Probation Department” for DC citizens who were formerly incarcerated and on “Papers”. I am on the lowest level of supervision. I have to go to “mass” check-in once every three months and sign a paper that says I am in compliance. I do not always see my Community Supervising Officer (CSO aka Probation Officer), because this is a mass check-in and there are approximately seven or eight CSO’s and our names are called based upon when we sign in and we see the officer seated at the row of tables who calls our name.

When I show up to CSOSA everyone is kind to me, the security officers, the receptionist, the other CSOs and my CSO’s face breaks into a huge smile when she spots me in the sea of others. In fact it feels to me as if they go out of their way to make me feel less shame.

But there is this paper I have to complete at each check in and the first line reads, “Offender Name”. From the time I walk in the building until I leave I see signs directing “OffendersCSOSA_Checkin_2-4-2016” this way and that way. And it is so easy to fix, simply, “Name” or signs that read, “If you are here for check-in this way” or, “If you need to see your CSO please check in here.”

 

I want you to say my name: Taylar Nuevelle. I chose it when I was 19 and my social worker had my birth certificate changed and the original one sealed, because I am a survivor and deserved to name myself.

My name is Taylar Nuevelle. I refuse to answer to or acknowledge any other title that anyone puts upon me.

Taylar Nuevelle.

 

Nothing About This Situation Requires Laughter or Smiles

(For the Human who inspired this blog. I’m sorry, but this is all I have to offer)mpdc_logo

Tonight at approximately 7:05 pm I walked up to the area of Union Station where the cabs pick-up. There were at least 10 Metropolita Police Department of DC Officers (MPDC) and DC Fired Department employees (DCFD) surrounding a body on the ground.
dc fire department_logo

As I approached the first thing I noticed were the smiles on their faces and the sound of laughter. I got closer as I was trying to get to the Metro station. Then I realized that there was a man, in a puddle of urine, passed out on the ground, shoes off and occasionally mumbling. Before I could stop myself I said very loudly, “What is funny about this situation? Why are there smiles on your faces?” One of the Black male MPDC officers responded, “You don’t know what we laughing at we got this we know this situation”

I answered, “Nothing about this situation requires laughter or smiles”
Someone else from the crew a, male, explained, “We got this. You can just move along.”
“Are you going to FD-12 him?” I asked, “What are your plans?”
More laughter and a short Black woman stood writing a ticket and a White male DCFD said, “He’s not an FD-12 Miss. So move along.”
More laughter.
“No,” said a stocky Black male MPDC officer, “He gittin’ a ticket for public intoxication and vagrancy.”

You see it’s warm out tonight, no FD-12, just tickets and laughter. No mandatory shelters, just smiles all around.

“If I take a picture of your smiles,” I said strongly, but lowering my voice, “and post it on Facebook, how do you think you will look?” Each one of them stopped, turned to me and saw my phone. But I stopped. I could not do it because the female officer whispered to the short stocky Black officer and he said, “I could, but let’s just leave that situation alone.” See I read lips real well—always have (hyper-vigilance is why I’m still alive)—and he stared me down. I heard the voice of someone dear speaking to me, and she whispered, “You do not have the privilege to get involved in these situations with the police because you are on papers.”

See I have three years hanging over my head. It’s called “Supervised Release” and it is worse than probation cause I earn no street time for good behavior. If I were to be arrested one day before my “Supervised Release” ended, I could be given the full three years in prison, and then placed back on “Supervised Release”. I am still in custody and I must cross my T’s and dot my I’s for three years or this becomes a life sentence. As I stood there, I heard her whisper in my ear about my lack of privilege. I also heard her remind me, “If they arrest you again, I don’t think we can get you out.” And this is the truth I have no power. I have no privilege.

What did I do? I hesitated long enough for them to see and they turned back to their work of dehumanizing this man. This human. And I turned my phone to my ear and a tall Black male MPDC officer walked over to me and smiled, showing his braces—his youth and naiveté—and leaned down and asked, “Do you even wanna know why we laughing? What you doing?” I answered, “Calling 311.” Then the White DCFD male looked at him and then sneered at me and said, “She is not worth anything. Leave her alone.”

3-1-1 was a shit-show. Automation after automation. I hung up and while the female officer continued to write out the ticket, I called 9-1-1. The operator asked, “What’s your emergency?” And I told her, “Your officers and fire department are humiliating this man in front of Union Station who is sick and needs help.” I went on and then she asked, “What do you need Mam?” I said loudly, “I need someone in charge like a captain or lieutenant to come down here and see what these people are doing who work for them.”

In the end she instructed me to stay put as I was a complaining witness and she needed me to be there when the new officers arrived. I heard the whisper in my ear and I said, “No I can’t wait.” The operator asked, “What’s your name?” and I said loudly, “Taylar Nuevelle.” Then I spelled it for her and gave my phone number. I realized that the number of officers had decreased by half. While I was yelling into the phone, they realized I was serious and then they came with a stretcher to take the man to the hospital.

I walked away. I called Emily because I had just finished spending an evening out with her sharing our hopes, fears, struggles and successes. I called her because I was of no use. Then my other line beeped, it was the 9-1-1 operator, the same woman I had spoken with, and she asked, “Ms. Taylar are you still there?” I laughed and said, “No I’m sorry I have too much going on in my life to stick around.” She explained that the officer was there to take my complaint. Then she questioned, “Who are you going to contact about your complaint if you don’t talk to the officer?” I laughed again and said, “I’m going to call the Mayor. I’m going to call Councilmember McDuffie, and then I’m going to issue a FOIA request for my 9-1-1 call.” She said, “Okay, be safe.”

Be safe. I am not Resilient Girl. I do not have the privilege. When I call 9-1-1 to report police brutality (be it emotional and/or physical violence), I have to kick rocks because once they look me up, I will either be arrested and/or FD12 (Involuntary commitment for at least 24 hours).

I understand that I have no privilege at this time. But one day I will and I will use it. Until then, those of you who are free please use your privilege to speak up and out, and do not take it lightly.

Ashe,
Taylar Nuevelle