Introducing my newest heroine

This story has been linked in several of the blogs I read, but I’m gonna snag from Sylvia’s place, since that’s where I saw it first:

I have a new woman to look up to, and she’s 7 years old. Lives in Detroit, MI.

A 7-year-old-girl is being hailed as an “angel from heaven” and a hero for jumping in front of an enraged gunman, who pumped six bullets into the child as she used her body as a shield to save her mother’s life.

Alexis Goggins, a first-grader at Campbell Elementary School, is in stable condition at Children’s Hospital in Detroit recovering from gunshot wounds to the eye, left temple, chin, cheek, chest and right arm.

“She is an angel from heaven,” said Aisha Ford, a family friend for 15 years who also was caught up in the evening of terror.

The girl’s mother, Selietha Parker, 30, was shot in the left side of her head and her bicep by a former boyfriend, who police said was trying to kill Parker. The gunman was disarmed by police and arrested at the scene of the shooting, a Detroit gas station. Police identified him as Calvin Tillie, 29, a four-time convicted felon whom Parker had dated for six months.

What a girl!

Behind the story of an awesome child with major strength and love for her mom, lies the uglier story of police indifference:

Ford said she dialed 911 on her cell phone as she walked into the station.“The first operator clicked off and I dialed again and told that operator a guy with a gun was holding me hostage with a mother and baby and threatening to kill us. I told her the name of the gas station and then she said they didn’t have a unit to send.”Ford said she paid for $5 of gas and slowly returned to the vehicle, stalling for time as she handed Tillie the change. She said she kept stopping and starting the pump, hoping the police would show up.“I told him I needed more gas and took money out of my purse and went back into the station,” she said. The attendant, Mohammad Alghazali, 30, said he noticed Ford was crying and she told him what was happening. He called 911 as he heard shots coming from the vehicle.

[…]Alghazali said a police car on a street nearby arrived in less than a minute after his call.

Much more coverage of this story (almost none of it from the mainstream media) has been from, most especially, Beautiful, Also, Are the Souls of My Black Sisters
, Content Black Woman at What About Our Daughters?, and Nezua at The Unapologetic Mexican.

From Beautiful, Also, Are the Souls of My Black Sisters:

Little Alexis is a heroine because she put her little body and life on the line.

Alexis Goggins deserves to be heralded and championed in the so-called “mainstream” news media. If the media can see fit to trip-stumble-and-fall all over itself with the dissecting of a madman killer’s hateful rampage, surely it can do the same for a little girl who truly is her “Sister’s” (and Mother’s) Keeper.

What About Our Daughters? has contact information to demand more media coverage:

IN addition, take a few moments to ream MSM out and demand that they run this story. NOW anytime some precocious White child manages to get lost in the wood while camping, they run wall to wall coverage. Let little Timmy call 911 when Mommy is going into labor, then they get an entire “Making A Difference ” segment, but a little black girl taking 6 BULLETS for her Mama? *crickets chirping*

A hero’s fund has been set up for Alexis:
Checks should be made out to the Alexis Goggins Hero Fund and sent to Campbell Elementary School in care of the Alexis Goggins Hero Fund, 2301 E Alexandrine St, Detroit, 48207. For information, call (313) 494-2052.

And Sylvia updates, courtesy of mnemosyne:

Alexis Goggins, the plucky 7-year-old who police say was shot six times Sunday when she shielded her mother from an enraged ex-boyfriend, emerged from a successful six-hour surgery Friday night to relieved family members.

“Everything turned out good,” said Tonya Colbert, her cousin. “She’s amazing. She’s still fighting and she’s still pulling through.”

The first-grader at Campbell Elementary School in Detroit emerged sedated and bandaged around 8 p.m. at Children’s Hospital of Michigan from surgeries on her right arm, eye and jaw.

Selietha Parker, her 30-year-old mother, stayed by her daughter’s bedside until around 10 p.m., when numbness in her own left arm, which still had a bullet lodged in it, forced her back to Detroit Receiving Hospital’s emergency room.

“She hasn’t been able to take care of herself because she’s so worried about her daughter,” Colbert said.

Doctors on Friday inserted pins in Alexis’ right arm, removed her right eye and wired her jaw shut. They will give her days to heal before considering any further surgeries, Colbert said.

Doctors on Friday inserted pins in Alexis’ right arm, removed her right eye and wired her jaw shut. They will give her days to heal before considering any further surgeries, Colbert said.

Her plight and heroic action have drawn media and public interest from around the country and abroad. The Detroit News receives dozens of e-mails and phone calls daily from concerned readers offering help and prayers.

On Friday, a Warren company that makes prosthetic eyes offered to donate one to Alexis.

“That is just wonderful,” Colbert said.

49 comments for “Introducing my newest heroine

  1. Betty Boondoggle
    December 12, 2007 at 11:37 am

    I’ve seen this story before, but every tiem I read it, I cry. I would have done the same for my mother, if I’d been old enough.

  2. Betty Boondoggle
    December 12, 2007 at 11:37 am

    She’s beyond a “hero”. we need bigger words for actions like this.

  3. Betty Boondoggle
    December 12, 2007 at 11:37 am

    She’s beyond a “hero”. we need bigger words for actions like this.

  4. December 12, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Betty, I cried when I read it too. Then I went and found my youngest, Ashanti, and gave her an unexpected kiss, “just because.” Of course she’s gotten to age where unexpected kisses from mom always need an explanation, so I told her the story of Alexis and asked her if she’d do the same for me. (Unfair, I know.)

    Well, I don’t call her Skeptical Youngest Daughter for nothing. She did this one-eyebrow-raised thing and had to think about it a minute. Now I’m thinking I have to find another kid, for “just in case.”

  5. December 12, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Twenty years ago, the 911 system was a joke in Detroit. I’m enraged to hear it still is. That little girl wouldn’t have had to be a hero if the fucking city were doing its job.

  6. snappy mackerel
    December 12, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Damn yeah, kactus. This story needs more exposure. The comments on the original Detroit newspaper website are enraging–“Well, if her mom hadn’t been dating such a bad guy…”

    Alexis IS a hero and good on you for keeping this story out there.

  7. Valerie
    December 12, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Yes, we need a word beyond the patriarchal concept of “heroism”. And to get beyond the idea that women or girls have to sacrifice their health and lives for somebody else.

  8. December 12, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Yes, we need a word beyond the patriarchal concept of “heroism”. And to get beyond the idea that women or girls have to sacrifice their health and lives for somebody else.

    Valerie, are you suggesting that patriarchal pressure caused 7 year old Alexis to selflessly try to save her own mother’s life? Really? Please tell me I’m completely misunderstanding you.

  9. December 12, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Yeah I’m not sure how patriarchal pressure would have played into things here. I mean, if she was a little boy, there would probably be more talk about bravery and being a bodyguard and less about angels from heaven. But it’s not like our culture wouldn’t also heap the same kind of praise on a boy for doing this.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that she’s selfless and brave and strong and loves her mother very much. She must have been thinking about what might happen, sitting in that car with her mom. That said, I don’t think I would want a child to throw themselves in front of bullets for me, even if they were my own flesh and blood. I couldn’t handle it, especially if they died. Kids just shouldn’t die before their parents, especially not in circumstances like this. I mean, you wouldn’t really want your daughter to try and stop a bullet for you, right kactus?

  10. Betty Boondoggle
    December 12, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Yes, we need a word beyond the patriarchal concept of “heroism”.

    are you suggesting that patriarchal pressure caused 7 year old Alexis to selflessly try to save her own mother’s life?

    I can’t speak for Valerie, but I took that to mean that “heroism” in a patriarchy is typically anything but heroism and that what this girl did was way above and beyond such a puny word.

  11. Thealogian
    December 12, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    I think that putting the main emphasis on the “heroism” aspect and not on the stalking, domestic abuse, and attempted murder aspect is problematic here.

    The fact that that child–a little girl–was shot six times by a man who was abusing/stalking/taking hostage her mother needs to be in the forefront. I’m sure that that mother, now seeing her child in pain, is having some serious survivors guilt. The child became a hero because an abusive man was a villain!

    Once again, the narrative seems to be on the victim and not emphasizing that NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF THE MAN WAS NOT A HOMICIDAL/ABUSIVE/VENDICTIVE ASSHOLE.

    Now, violence against women/girls of color NEED more attention–seeing Missing and Black in America for a better illustration of the inequity in terms of media attention there. And, having a person to hold up to the media can be important–and certainly this girl deserves some attention and a medical/recovery fund to help out with what may be life-long health repercussions of the shooter’s actions. So, I’m all for that, but I do think that its important to be critical of how we hold our mantles before the public. If she had been a boy and wrestled the gun away from the shooter the conversation would be very different–or if a boy put himself in the way of the shooter and his mother. Our language would change. For this girl’s case, much is placed on the self-sacrifice and that its a gendered narrative. For a boy it would be courage. Our heroes are deeply gendered constructs in patriarchy.

    peace

  12. Halfmad
    December 12, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    WTF? I can’t find ANYTHING on this at CNN. Off to write them right now…

  13. Eileen
    December 12, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    My heart goes out to that little girl and her family. I hope she gets every bit of congratulation coming to her and is truly recognized for her selfless heroism.

    This is an aside:
    I’m pretty sure that the police failed to respond to the original call because it came from a cell phone and responded quickly to the call from the landline. This works nationwide, and is largely because they can’t confirm the location of cell calls and get a lot of false calls from cells. Worth remembering if you ever need quick police response.

  14. December 12, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Interesting. The only time Mrs. Nation called from a cell phone, the police got there within a few minutes. I guess we got lucky. (the call wasn’t even that serious)

  15. Eileen
    December 12, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Well, it all depends on circumstances D.N., and I’m not negating the possibility that dispatchers take cell calls less seriously if they involve domestic disputes. There may also be racist under/overtones that affect individual dispatcher’s responses to particular calls. Generally though, if you want to ensure a quick response call from a landline. They’ve got no excuses if you do that.

  16. December 12, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    I’m pretty sure that the police failed to respond to the original call because it came from a cell phone and responded quickly to the call from the landline.

    Eileen, that’s an optimistic view, but it doesn’t fit the story. The first 911 operator hung up on the mother. The second told her they “didn’t have a unit” to send to the gas station, even though she had the address and the police arrived less than a minute after the gas-station owner called. This wasn’t a matter of a well-meaning dispatcher unable to find the source of the call.

  17. December 12, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    There may also be racist under/overtones that affect individual dispatcher’s responses to particular calls.

    Well, here’s the complete rundown of our situation:

    My wife and I are both white.

    The call was regarding a fairly threatening call that she got- well, sort of got…it was her phone, but me who picked up. Guy on the end basically said he was going to kill us. In retrospect, an idiot looking for attention.

    I was pretty meh, but she was scared enough that she decided to call the police on her cell. My wife has what she describes as a “little girl voice.” The police said they’d meet us at a restaurant parking lot nearby, and got there in about three/four minutes.

    Seemed to me at the time, and seems to me now that they certainly paid us a lot of attention for what was fairly harmless. Now, it could have been because our case was an easy way to punch time, or it could have been our privilege- my wife sounding like a white sweet young girl on the phone. Either way, it points me in the direction that mythago was going.

    I hope this story gets wider notice, and I hope it’s used to fuel demands for law enforcement improvements, even as nebulous as that concept is.

  18. Betsy
    December 12, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    I would like to see more of it in the MSM, and I would like to see it framed in terms of “This is a brave and wonderful child whose bravery wouldn’t have cost her these injuries if the fucking dispatchers/cops had done their goddamn jobs.”

  19. Eileen
    December 12, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    It will be great if increased focus on this case also ensures an investigation into the police response.

  20. juliagulia
    December 12, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    I’m pretty sure that the police failed to respond to the original call because it came from a cell phone and responded quickly to the call from the landline.

    Eileen, that’s an optimistic view, but it doesn’t fit the story. The first 911 operator hung up on the mother. The second told her they “didn’t have a unit” to send to the gas station, even though she had the address and the police arrived less than a minute after the gas-station owner called. This wasn’t a matter of a well-meaning dispatcher unable to find the source of the call.

    I lived in the Detroit area for a long time, and their 911 system is seriously flawed…no doubt they get a lot of false alarm calls and are seriously understaffed due to the serious shortage of resources in that city, so I don’t think it’s anything malicious, but it is a major, well-documented problem in the city. For further evidence (and to make your blood boil), see here. (It’s a CNN transcript that reports several stories – search the webpage for “911 in Detroit” to get the beginning of the story.

    I love my hometown, but it needs help.

  21. December 12, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    juliagulia-

    Has Michigan’s budget issues made Detroit’s problems worse?

  22. Mnemosyne
    December 12, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    For this girl’s case, much is placed on the self-sacrifice and that its a gendered narrative. For a boy it would be courage. Our heroes are deeply gendered constructs in patriarchy.

    Okay, that makes more sense now. I don’t know that the solution is to say that this girl is not a hero, because she is. How many of us would throw ourselves in front of another person to try and save them, regardless of our age?

    (Not that it matters or anyone cares, but I’m not the mnemosyne who provided the story. We are legion. ;-) and I really only write about cats and knitting when I bother to blog at all.)

  23. December 12, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    I mean, you wouldn’t really want your daughter to try and stop a bullet for you, right kactus?

    Of course not. That was just a little one-off joke, mostly between my daughter and I, than any real expectations or real desires I have for her.

    I apologize if it seemed like I was trying to put any pressure on her to sacrifice herself for me. And I apologize if I misunderstood Valerie’s comment, too.

  24. sophonisba
    December 12, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    For this girl’s case, much is placed on the self-sacrifice and that its a gendered narrative

    You can say that again. The repetition of “selfless” is pretty sickening. You don’t love your mother this much unless you have a pretty damn strong sense of self. Or just a plain old strong self.

  25. December 12, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    I can’t read about this story without breaking out in goose-bumps. This story is chilling.

  26. sophonisba
    December 12, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    On Friday, a Warren company that makes prosthetic eyes offered to donate one to Alexis.

    “That is just wonderful,” Colbert said.

    Sure it is. It actually is wonderful. Until you think about the fact that nobody would be donating free medical care and prosthetics to her mother, if she’d been the one to take all the bullets.

    That’s the real reason Alexis a hero, and it’s a pretty awful reason. God help that girl if anybody harms her once she’s past puberty, because she will learn pretty quickly the limits of people’s compassion and generosity.

  27. juliagulia
    December 12, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    DN – Detroit has been spiraling downward for a long time, mainly due to globalization’s effects on the auto industry, white flight, and a deep and pervasive (but subtle) racism that exists in the area. There is a huge effort underway to improve the area by renovating old buildings into upscale apartments and commercial projects, subsidizing small businesses that are willing to open downtown, etc…all of which brings more tax revenue downtown. All of which is great, and has really started turning the city around.

    And yet, it hasn’t helped enough…partially because of the racism mentioned above (most metro Detroiters, especially those over the age of 35 or so, are terrified of going downtown on a regular basis), and partly, yes, because of the budget problems in Michigan. When the state’s in a crisis and money’s hard to come by, very little is routed to Detroit at the expense of rich suburbs (you see some SERIOUS victim blaming and “deserving poor” arguments coming in whenever a politician starts talking about reallocating money downtown). And opening upscale stores and restaurants downtown to attract suburban residents doesn’t bring tax dollars in when suburban residents are losing their jobs and gas is $3.50 a gallon (there is no public transportation system in the metro Detroit area).

    So, that’s a long answer, but the gist is…the budget situation in Michigan isn’t helping, but the city has deeper problems than the larger economic crisis. Weirdly, most of the improvements to the city have come in the last 5-10 years as the economy has tanked…but unfortunately, it just can’t overcome years of neglect. The city government is dealing with years of deficits, the education system’s in the toilet, and the infrastructure is crumbling…not to mention all those flawed studies that come out year after year naming Detroit the murder capital of the world (that just scare the pants off of anyone who might consider coming downtown for an event). Sad to say, the 911 system’s probably pretty low on the totem pole of things to fix.

    (If you can’t tell, I have a deep, deep love for where I come from…so pardon my rambling. :)

  28. December 12, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Theologen wrote:

    Our heroes are deeply gendered constructs in patriarchy.

    I second that.
    The girl is indeed a hero, but the fact that the story is about her bravery more than about the man’s evilness is telling.

    From the blog post:

    Let little Timmy call 911 when Mommy is going into labor, then they get an entire “Making A Difference ” segment, but a little black girl taking 6 BULLETS for her Mama? *crickets chirping*

    Again, the narrative tells us something if we look at what’s missing. Where are the stories of women who deliver babies themselves, without little boys to call 911?

  29. Betty Boondoggle
    December 12, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    but the fact that the story is about her bravery

    no no. Her Selflessness. Bravery is only for penises.

  30. Carpenter
    December 12, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    I called 911 from my cell phone two times. Once when a kid flew off a dirt bike right in front of me and once when someone got shot in the face in my alley. They responded both times. I don ‘t buy that cell phone/landline story.

  31. December 12, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    I’ve been writing on this since the day after it happened. It pisses me off to no end, y’all. No freaking end! The comments out there blaming the mother, saying her kid should be removed from her care, it’ll make your blood boil.

    I’ve e-mailed the paper a few days ago to ask if there’s been a PayPal account set up. I haven’t heard back but when I do, I’ll e-mail TPTB here at Feministe so they can post it if they wish.

  32. nonskanse
    December 12, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    I thought this was big news when I saw it on blogs since quite a few of the blogs I read talked about it. Then I noticed all of this “it’s not in the news” and was a little horrified. Or maybe a lot.

    I hope for good things only for the little girl.

  33. Jamie
    December 12, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    That was amazing and VERY brave for the girl to have done that. I think most kids by that age come to know, or are taught, about the truth of guns, and yet she still did it.

    Good on you for letting people know about this.

    I’m also reminded of Scary Movie, where the lead types in “White Woman in trouble!” to some Internet 911 thing and the police are almost instantly there. Stupid movie, yeah, but it had some rather telling moments there, especially in reference to this.

  34. December 13, 2007 at 12:42 am

    juliagulia-

    Wow. That sucks.

    Best of luck. I live in the middle of Atlanta, and although we’re nowhere near that level of crumble, obviously deal with similar sort of things. We’re on the rebound. Let’s hope you will too.

  35. Katherine
    December 13, 2007 at 10:22 am

    I’m just beyond astonishment and disbelief that a call regarding a gun and hostages was deemed, what, not urgent? I’m more gobsmacked than I can possibly say, and I have to admit I’m gobsmacked that this isn’t a source of enormous outrage nationwide in the US.

    This may be because I’m not in the US, and gun crime is still a relative rarity in my part of the world (the UK), but when a large city in the richest country in the world can’t fund a police service that will respond to a hostage-involving a gun, then something has gone seriously, seriously wrong.

  36. JenLovesPonies
    December 13, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Maybe the story isn’t getting as much publicity because they are afraid of copy-cat children? I am a little squicked out by this story, to be honest. I want to praise the kid- good for her for saving Mom- but I am so suprised she lived, and even though she lived she is bound to have health problems related to those bullets (at least, that’s what I have heard- that most victims of gun violence do have health problems down the line). I don’t know, but a media that won’t cover suicides might not want to cover this.

    I for one would much rather my child called 911 than jumped in front of bullets for me.

  37. EG
    December 13, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Jen, I’m a bit squicked, too. If any of the girls I take care of tried to take a bullet for me…just, no. Because I’d rather die saving them than have to live knowing that they suffered and died for me. Not blaming the mother, of course–I bet everything happened in one instant–but I just can’t feel good about this on any level.

  38. December 13, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    I’m not seeing the “squick” factor here, unless we’re squicked by the danger that women and children are put in by violent men with guns and by a society that increasingly uses violence to express anger and settle disputes.

    Am I suggesting that all children be ready to take a bullet for their parents? Of course not. But Alexis acted without thought for herself, she showed true heroism, and she deserves to be praised for that.

  39. EG
    December 13, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    For me, the squick factor is exactly that she acted without thought for herself. She’s so young–and already she’s decided that her life is worth less than somebody else’s. I’m not saying that everybody else has to stop praising her. I’m saying that I don’t like that.

  40. December 13, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    Fair enough, EG. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

  41. December 13, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    You know, the more I think about this though, even though you and I disagree, EG, I would willingly walk through fire for my children. Why is it different because the roles are switched? Love is love, and selflessness is too rare.

    And it doesn’t matter if you would do it, or my children would do it for me. I know I would have that measure of love and that’s all that matters.

    This sounds very sentimental, I’m sure. Well, it is sentimental, and I’m not going to temper that sentiment with cynicism, or question what that child did for the mother she loves. Good for her that she will go her life knowing she has that strength and that capacity. I wish we all had more of it.

  42. December 13, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    You don’t love your mother this much unless you have a pretty damn strong sense of self.

    Or unless you’ve been in the role of helping your mother rather than the other way around for a very long time.

    juliagulia, I hope I didn’t come across as Detroit-bashing. I’d probably be living there if it didn’t mean putting up with the rest of the frickin’ state.

  43. EG
    December 14, 2007 at 12:27 am

    Or unless you’ve been in the role of helping your mother rather than the other way around for a very long time.

    Mythago, you just put your finger on exactly why this story leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s pushed certain buttons for me; women I know and love (OK, cards on the table, my mother) grew up with an emotionally abusive mother who neglected her and indeed, everything else. She had to take on a parental role at a very young age. My best friend’s mother was incapacitated with illness from the time my friend was 8–by the time she was 10 she was running the household. From what I’ve read, this is not an uncommon pattern for neglected children. So what I flash on when I hear this story is the pattern of the parentified child, the child who has had to take on adult, protective roles long, long before she should have, the child who’s had her childhood taken away from her. Given the abusive asshole boyfriend, I bet this is not the first time the kid has protected her mother at her own expense. And to me, that’s just not the way the parent-child relationship should work.

    Again, I’m not saying that anybody else has to agree. I just spent a lot of time today thinking (and talking to my mother) about why I have such a strong reaction of revulsion to this story.

  44. December 14, 2007 at 12:35 am

    Exactly, EG. I don’t know, obviously, that this is actually what is going on, and I don’t want to sound like I’m blaming the mother for the attacker’s actions, but I had the same reaction.

  45. JenLovesPonies
    December 14, 2007 at 2:11 am

    What EG and mythago said.

    The reason I said the story squicked me out is because
    1. A six year old cannot weigh the benefits and consquences of taking bullets for her mother. Her actions don’t seem heroic when she is too damn young to even understand what she was taking on. I feel like heroism implies a certain amount of self-knowledge, and sacrifice all the more-so.
    2. There has to be more to the story along the lines of mythago’s point about how this girl has probably been taking proverbial bullets for Mom for a while.

  46. Interrobang
    December 14, 2007 at 5:13 am

    That poor kid. She lost an eye. That was the horrifying part of it for me. She’s going to have a harder life than she might have otherwise, speaking as someone who’s visibly disabled.

    FWIW, I’m under 35, and I’m still terrified to go into Detroit. OTOH, I’m Canadian, and there is no other city I’ve ever visited that calls to mind the phrase “urban wasteland” quite the way Detroit does. The people responsible are white (by and large, aside from a few outliers), incidentally, since white people set up the Byzantine tax structure that makes it easy and desireable to abandon houses that won’t sell; white people left in droves because of racism and eviscerated the tax base, and white people killed off some of Detroit’s most vibrant neighbourhoods by building highways right through the middle of them. (They also killed off the good public transit system that Detroit had sixty or seventy years ago, and good public transit is nothing if not a great social leveller.)

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