By Kirsten West Savali
When 20-year-old Frankea Dabbs abandoned her 10-month-old baby girl on a New York City subway platform on 7 July, it was a piercing cry for help that has long echoed throughout homes, neighborhoods and cities across the United States – a cry that is often ignored or replaced with a more racially charged narrative.
The surface response to her actions seems to be one of blanket shock: “Why would she do such a horrible thing?”
But the subtext to that question is this: “Why do they do such horrible things?”
And “they” are black women living in poverty in the United States.
Dabbs, who was reportedly traumatized by witnessing her daughter’s father murdered as she hid beneath a bed while two months pregnant, is suffering with mental illness and is homeless, according to family members. (She was reportedly also arrested for prostitution, but was never convicted.)
“Stuff is wrong with Frankea’s mind,” her aunt told the New York Daily News. “She walks around with dark shades. She even sleeps in dark shades. I really believe there is something mentally wrong with Frankea.”
But when “wrong” is a label attached to a young, black mother who abandoned her baby, it reflects a broader, more sinister history. “Wrong” represents a manifestation of black pathology. “Wrong” describes a supposedly innate criminality. “Wrong” becomes the reason we further invisibilize poor, black women with no one or nothing to rely on but their faith and their family, neither of which is guaranteed.
The original story read more: Cops find young woman who abandoned infant at Columbus Circle subway platform: police