Everyone failed Zarah Coombs and her late 4-year-old son, Zamair: The oppressive dominant culture that she and her son did not belong to; the educational system that acknowledged her intelligence, but did not reward it or celebrate it; ACS-a system that exist in name, and name only; and her family, friends and neighbors, whoever they are.
Because all she probably needed, in that moment when she raised a stick to hit her child, was a hug, or a shoulder to cry on, a break, after being broken down by failed abusive relationships and perhaps a childhood in a broken home.
Her choices were limited. Her help was nonexistent. Nobody came to save the day for Zarah. Mentally, her mind needed assistance, maybe even her heart, but she was given food stamps instead, perhaps, or shelter in her parents’ home, a role in the family business.
Yet, she felt she had to steal recently. Too many children turn into teens and then adults who are silenced to keep up a front about the negativities that happens in their homes. It’s a rule among families. Since they can’t talk about it, they never get the coping skills to deal with anything…so they turn to anything…to everything.
I don’t know the killer Zarah Coombs, the monster as some people are calling her; I only know the student Zarah Coombs from over a decade ago. Years and life change people. Circumstances and decisions to get involved with the wrong people change people. Zarah can change. She’s not a threat to society. She needs help, and her remaining children need help.
It’s unnatural for a mother to kill her child and it’s depressing to know she took her anger out on her child and killed him. She did not wake up that morning and decide that she was going to kill Zahmir that day, but no one is talking about that. There are killers who plot and plan murders.
There are abusers and rapists who demonstrate that their purpose is to cause others pain, but Zarah did not demonstrate that in her life from what I read and was told by her former middle school classmates. She might have been poor, abused, or raped and just did not know how to deal with anything else, anymore. Zarah is not the first mother to kill one of her children; mothers of all ethnicities have done so…
An estimated 200 women kill their children in America every year. A study conducted by Dr. Phillip Resnick in 1969 reported that most of them are sent to mental hospitals and not prisons. Unfortunately, people are vilifying Zarah instead of looking at the epidemic and cases were the intention to kill the child was there.
I feel bad for the women who want to have kids, but can’t, when there are women who are having kids and killing them. I feel bad for the kids like Zahmir. I feel bad for my culture that has to deal with all of the corrupt systems hurting us. I feel bad for Zarah.
Valon L. Beasley, Zarah’s Middle School English Teacher
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