What About All Of America's Daughters?

Gabby Petito, 22, was reported missing on Sept. 11, while traveling across the US. with her fiancé.
Her remains were discovered Sept. 19, in Wyoming.

By John W. Fountain

The disappearance and death of Gabby Petito, 22, is a great tragedy and loss, and my heart goes out to her and her family. We should all mourn for Gabby. For this is an American tragedy.

But we should equally mourn for Reo-Renee Holyfield. For Gwendolyn Williams, Nancie Walker, and the mostly 51 African-American women in Chicago slain from 2001 to 2018, and discarded like trash, set on fire or mutilated and whose murders remain mostly unsolved. 

Theirs is equally an American tragedy. Like the stories of thousands of missing and murdered women across America whose stories don't get the national—or local—press' attention the way stories of missing or murdered white women do.

It is a glaring tale of great disparity, one in which the American press, which purports to be fair and equal and a purveyor of truth, fairness and democracy ignores the stories of so many of America's daughters slain, missing, stolen... Missing are the stories of America’s daughters of color.

That much is clear even in the story of the Unforgotten 51, and untold thousands of missing women of color nationwide.

This story keeps cropping up. Every time a white woman or girl goes missing. Then the disparity glares—at least for those of us in communities of color... 

Theirs is an American tragedy in Black and white. It is revealing with glaring clarity—a tale of the disparity in the media’s coverage of cases of murdered of missing Black women and other women of color. A real-life tale of the gaping divide in how law enforcement and society at large views and treats their cases, which far exceed the rate of violent crime against white women.

The Unforgotten 51 is a project undertaken by John Fountain and his students at Roosevelt University and examined the case of 51 mostly African-American women slain in Chicago from 2001 to 2018.

They Walked For The Unforgotten 51 & Other Black Women Murdered or Missing

 

Protestors lead the way with a banner in the “We Walk for Her March” march held Tuesday, June 22.


By John W. Fountain

She walked for her--this palpable trail of humanity and collective tears flowing down South King Drive, their chants rising in unison from here and the grave into the warm summer air in remembrance of those Black girls and women no longer able to speak for themselves.

Their voices resounded with a call for closure. For justice. For answers, and ultimately for an end to the slaying of young Black women and girls strangled, suffocated, shot or mangled, their bodies discarded like yesterday’s trash. 

They spoke. For those Black girls and women abducted or who suddenly vanished without a trace, like a vapor.

For the dead, they walked. For those whose innocent blood still cries from premature graves.

Why I Stand with Father Pfleger

Father Michael L. Pfleger stands during a march last year to protest the killing of George Floyd and the continuation of systemic racism. (Photo credit: John W. Fountain)
This is an extended version of a column that appears in Sunday's Chicago Sun-Times newspaper 

By John W. Fountain

I stand with Father Pfleger.

Oh, I hear you, dear Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, in purporting to be on the side of justice and transparency in your silencing and removing of the nationally renowned, longtime pastor of the Faith Community of St. Sabina while officials conduct a probe into allegations of sexual abuse of a minor more than 40 years ago.

Indeed I am among the multitude that believes that truth and justice--no matter how long delayed--must prevail. That we must, at all costs, protect the least of these: Our children.

I hear you, trust me, I do. Even as I stand painfully aware of the Catholic church’s well-documented ferrying of known pedophile priests from parish to parish while paying incalculable sums in settlements to sex abuse victims--including a reported more than $200 million by the Chicago Archdiocese.

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"How often does the church’s hierarchy venture beyond its majestic gothic headquarters to touch the untouchable in Englewood?"  

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My Visit To Ghana: Remembrance of Black History Long Before Slavery

John W. Fountain stands at Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. 
He visited Ghana in 2007 and will return this August as a Fulbright Scholar where he will teach 
at the University of Ghana in Accra and conduct a research project titled,
"Africa Calling: Portraits of Black Americans Drawn To The Motherland."
He is a professor of journalism at Roosevelt University.
By John W. Fountain

Imagine. If the ocean could cry. If the walls did cry. If the sands could speak. If the cells here in Cape Coast would try to tell the tale of blood lost, of tears shed. Of souls dead. Imagine…

These were the words I penned shortly after visiting the former slave castle in Cape Coast, Ghana, in 2007--a hauntingly majestic white stone fortress overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. 

Standing on that side of the Atlantic upon this castle, where my ancestors began their shackled journey to North America, staring into waves that lapped at its shores, I was awash in Black history. Moved in ways I had not been before by our story as African Americans, by our journey, which did not begin in 1619.

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In City of 'Silence,' Never A Greater Need to 'Say Something'

Father Michael L. Pfleger, senior pastor of the Faith Community of St. Sabina
By John W. Fountain
Silence
Hear the silence
The sound of nothingness, 
crashing
like waves 
upon this star-kissed city's shore, 
in the face of injustice 
and poverty
that roar

Silence...
Deafening 
Amid burgeoning malevolence 
Merciless greed
That leaves
Black lives scattered
Black lives shattered
Listless
In the bitter night cold
Frozen
In drifting now
Souls frostbitten
By Hatred
So cold
So bold
Old schemes 
In "The White City"
Where Black dreams 
Remain elusive
Privilege exclusive
And voices that challenge 
The status quo
So few and far 
Between
That silence 
now screams!

Aunt Mary's Triple-Decker German Chocolate Cake Recipe

"I tried it, mission accomplished!" -John Fountain on baking Aunt Mary's German chocolate cake shown here.

“You almost need to Zoom it, at least the steps and what you do or its not going to come out good...” -Aunt Mary, 82 

Well, I won't Zoom it, but I’ve included pictures from my own foray into baking Aunt Mary’s German Chocolate Cake, which turned out splendid. Here’s the recipe and detailed instructions.

Ingredients for Cake: Four egg yolks; one bar of Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate; two cups of sugar; two sticks of unsalted butter; two cups of cake flour (or sifted, if ordinary flour. Aunt Mary sifts her flour about five times); one cup of buttermilk; one teaspoon of vanilla extract; one teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt. (Three 8-inch pans greased with Crisco Regular Shortening  and sprinkled with flour (shake off all excess flour.))

Ingredients for Icing: For icing: One stick of unsalted butter; one can of evaporated milk, one cup of sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla extract; Three egg yolks, one medium bag of pecan pieces; 1 medium bag of coconut.

Cake Instructions: Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature before you start. Aunt Mary says she sets them out eight hours before she bakes. As you get started, separate seven egg whites from yolks; beat seven egg whites, and set egg yolks to the side (four for the cake, and three for the icing). Aunt Mary says, “I usually put all the egg whites together and beat them and set them to the side...”