I’ve always hated the film Losing Isaiah.
So, it was not without irony, I found myself watching the film the other night. I flipped the channels desperately trying to avoid the movie. However, nothing else interesting was on. It has been years since I’ve seen the film, and thought perhaps it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. I was wrong. It wasn’t long before I changed the channel. I just couldn’t take Halle Berry twitching as a “crackhead” and speaking poor “Black dialect.” While, on the flipside, Jessica Lange played a loving and articulate middle class woman.
A synopsis of the film, Berry’s child is adopted by Lange’s character, after she leaves him in a trash can while high on crack. Later, Berry goes to rehab and gets clean. After a dramatic custody battle and not being able to bond with her child, she decides Lange should be in her son’s life. A Black mama needs a white woman to show her the way. The film was, and will always be offensive.
A couple of days later, I was scrolling through old posts, and came across articles I’d shared on the Hart children. I felt again, an overwhelming sense of sadness, as I stared at pictures of the children. It was disturbing to know that their smiles were covering the pain of emotional/mental/physical abuse.
Back in April, four adopted children (Markis, 19, Jeremiah, 14, Abigail, 14, and Sierra 12) were murdered by their “mothers,” Jennifer and Sarah Hart. Two other children, Devonte, 15, and Hannah, 16 bodies have not been found. It’s assumed they were also killed in a car crash, orchestrated by the women. It wasn’t long before reports came out that the women had a history of abusing the children. They moved from state to state, whenever social services got too close. It seems the most recent investigation on the family, was going to finally reveal the evilness of these women. So, they decided to kill the children, instead of facing the consequences of their actions.
The murder of these children was a huge story in Portland. This was due to the fact, the popular photo of Devonte hugging a police officer, was taken at a protest against police violence in our city. It also highlighted the racial issues that plague Portland. While Portland is often viewed as a progressive place, many people aren’t aware of the racist history that blemishes that fairytale. And for many Black/people of color, Jennifer and Sarah Hart were symbolic of the problematic nature of many white people in Portland. Fake conscious white folks, who engage in daily racist/microaggressive/terrorist behavior against Black/people of color.
I thought about “Losing Isaiah” while I reading the articles. Similar to the movie’s storyline, Sherry Davis (mother of Devonte, Jeremiah, and Sierra) lost custody of her children, due to drug addiction. Davis’ voice has been largely absent on the killing of her children. I was only able to find a couple of interviews devoted to her heartache. Unlike Halle’s character in the film, Davis did have family willing look after her children, while she got her life together. The children were still placed into foster care and later allowed to be adopted by the Harts. Child Protective Services is notorious for being racist and anti-black.
As in the film, white people are promoted as better parents for Black children. So, even if Black children have stable relatives that can take care of them, they are purposefully ignored in favor of white families. They are placed in the role of white saviors of these children. In the case of Jennifer and Sarah Hart, they were white menaces.
I can’t imagine what Ms. Davis is going through. Particularly, with the recent celebration of Mother’s Day. How traumatizing it must be to know her children’s lives were cut short by self-absorbed racists. There is no way in the world, two Black women would have been able to murder six white children, and not have it plastered all over the news. Ms. Davis’ loss has mostly been swept under the rug.
It’s not only a tragedy, it’s a disgrace.