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Janice Saban is a Gladstone resident who leads the Our Community Cat Rescue nonprofit group.

As a child, I was always proud to have my mother come to my school functions. One day though, after my mother came to attend a parent classroom function when I was in the third grade, I stopped wanting her to come.

Janice SabanAt lunch time, I remember the kids were chanting to me while I was in line, "Your mother is a negro; your mother is a negro." I didn't know what the word meant, but it was embarrassing to me that they were chanting this over and over. I left the line and went to the restroom. I was so upset and crying, I sat on the toilet without pulling down my underpants and peed in them.

While my mother was not African American, she had a dark complexion for her race. From then on, it was my older sister who would come to my school functions. I don't remember what was actually said about it, but my sister always came after I told my mom and dad what happened.

With the protests going on right now, I wanted to share this, as currently I am being targeted again, by adults. Adults who live in Gladstone and Jennings Lodge, chanting about me on social media.

These people are business owners, some are council members and their spouses. Some are random friends of theirs just "chiming" in because 

their friends are doing it. They are saying I'm a bully referring to me as Carole Baskins, a big cat rescue woman who was accused of killing her husband, from the "Tiger King" series. I actually do cat rescue in Gladstone, and have had a successful cat rescue that has been a vital part of the Gladstone community for well over a decade. A Facebook group has now been created for the sole purpose to bash, ridicule and poke fun at me. "Hmm" is all I can think to say, because none have ever met me.

A council member must have done a background check on me for personal purposes, maybe even having an issue with my ethnicity, since she has even blocked my children from her community pages on Facebook, never meeting them either. Why?

I find this incredibly alarming, especially with what is going on in the world today. The bullying, the hatred, the negativity — it really has no place in our wonderful community of Gladstone.

I recently learned that Gladstone was named after a man who believed in slavery and actually owned slaves. This council member has a Facebook page "The Glad in Gladstone." It makes me wonder if this bullying is actually hate speech and racism in disguise. 

Next time you go to that local coffee shop in Gladstone, the bed and breakfast with farm fresh eggs, the motorcycle shop, the care home facility, the photographer, the people who call themselves a rescue, the massage place or the grocery store, please ask yourself, "Are these the folks who have targeted a woman of race, with a known disability?" I spoke about it at the Gladstone City Council, giving numerous examples of what's happening, and as to what their policies and guidelines for social media are for those who sit on the council, city volunteers, and their elected officials as well as their spouses, and I hope it will be addressed.

I find it distressing this is happening in the Gladstone community. I find it sad that adults don't have enough going on in their lives and feel they can harass and intimidate others behind the cover of social media groups.

I have kept copies of these conversations amongst these folks who are my neighbors and I'm hoping this abusive behavior will stop.

Janice Saban is a Gladstone resident who leads the Our Community Cat Rescue nonprofit group.


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