Darlene says she’s been estranged from her 27-year-old daughter, Abby, for more than a year, because she doesn’t approve of Abby converting from Southern Baptist to Islam. Darlene says she believes Abby is being “brainwashed” by her Muslim friends — and fears her daughter might even “turn into a terrorist.” Abby insists her mother has taken a narrow and uninformed view of Islam, which she credits for helping her turn her life around. Can Dr. Phil help this mother and daughter reconnect — and move forward with acceptance? Plus, the only minority juror in the George Zimmerman trial speaks out. And, attorney Lisa Bloom, author of the new book Suspicion Nation,
shares her insight on the case.
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Darlene says she believes her daughter, Kristen, turned her back on her family and her country when she converted to Islam two years ago. She says she’s worried that Kristen — who she refuses to call by her new name, Abby — may turn into a terrorist. “Kristen has been totally brainwashed by these people,” Darlene claims. “She got rid of her clothes. She only wears the scarf, the long dresses. She’s taken everything American out of her house and replaced it with the Saudi Arabian flag. She goes to stores that sell that kind of food.” Darlene continues, “I think they have a hidden agenda for her because of the way things are progressing so quickly.”
“My mother is very ignorant,” Abby says. “I’m a Muslim, and not all
Muslims are terrorists.” She adds that she thinks being a Muslim is much safer than her previous lifestyle, as rapper MC Router. “My shtick was that people would bring me beer,” she recalls. “My sets
would be an hour, and I could knock out 24 beers. I was close to being an alcoholic.” Abby says she was also having promiscuous sex with fans and club owners, but when she converted to Islam, her life changed
dramatically. “I spend my time reading the Quran and praying,” she explains. Abby says her plan is to move to Saudi Arabia when she finishes school — and never look back.
Onstage, Abby and Darlene reunite for the first time in more than a year. “I actually stepped out of the way, so you could see your daughter,” Dr. Phil comments. “And you haven’t even looked at her yet.”
“I can’t,” Darlene replies, tearfully. “It hurts me to see her like this, because she looks nothing like my daughter. She’s changed a lot.”
“I’m still the same person inside,” Abby insists. “I’ve just changed things for the better, so she should be happy.”
“What do you say to her about her fears? She thinks you’re going to become a terrorist.”
Darlene says she’s seen her daughter go through many phases, and she prays that this new religion is just another one. “She got into being Goth, and then she went into the military,” Darlene recalls. “She started swing dancing. Then she became a rapper. Then she got interested in Dutch people. She learned Dutch and changed her name to Krisje.” Darlene says her biggest fear is that Abby will follow through on her plans to move to Saudi Arabia “so she can believe that she’s really Muslim.” She insists, “I think she’s lost her identity.”
“The thing about it is that these things aren’t really phases,” Abby says. “I think they’re experiences. I still speak Dutch on a daily basis.”
“So, now you want to be Muslim and move to Saudi Arabia,” Dr. Phil says. “Before, you wanted to be Dutch and move to Amsterdam. Are you kind of an all-or-nothing sort of girl?”
“Whatever it is, I’m all or nothing,” Abby agrees.
Dr. Phil asks Abby how she feels about America, and she responds that she doesn’t like it that much. “I appreciate the freedoms here and stuff, but it’s not my cup of tea,” she says. “I like being around old culture and traditions, and I think America is just kind of a big melting pot, and there’s not a whole lot of tradition here.” She adds, “I’m just bored here, I guess. I mean, who knows? I could move somewhere and then miss America.”
Dr. Phil lists some of Saudi Arabia’s rules for women. And, Abby reacts: “I’ve already done everything. I want to straighten up my life.”
Edina Lekovic, of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and Alden, a Dr. Phil staff member who was raised Muslim, weigh in on some misconceptions about the faith.
“You understand that she’s an adult, right?” Dr. Phil says to Darlene. “So, you can’t dictate what she does. You can only influence what she does.” He encourages her, “Have a dialogue with your daughter.”
“She won’t,” Darlene protests.
“Yes, she will,” Dr. Phil responds. “Eighty percent of all questions are statements in disguise,” he explains, adding, “An awful lot of your questions are disguised statements, accusations, allegations and indictments of her thoughts and ideas.” He continues, “You need to realize that’s not working for you. She’s making a decision you don’t like, so you’ve just cut her off.”
Dr. Phil asks both Darlene and Abby to work on re-opening the lines of communication between them. “Fix this,” he encourages them, and they agree to try.
A Juror Speaks Out
It’s been just over two years since neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager. Zimmerman, who maintained that he acted in self-defense and within the law, was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter, in a case that ignited debate nationwide about race and civil rights.
Maddy, the only juror to reveal her identity and speak out publicly, says that serving on the jury ruined her life. “I lost my job when I came back. I lost my freedom. I had reporters sitting in front of my house,” she recalls. “I got a death threat on social media that said I was going to feel the same pain that Trayvon Martin’s mother felt.”
Maddy claims that as the only minority on the panel, she was treated differently by the five other jurors. “One of the jurors even made fun of the way I spoke,” she claims. “I felt pressured when I was in the deliberations. I felt that I was bullied.” Maddy continues, “In my heart, I believe that George Zimmerman is guilty of killing Trayvon Martin. The law said he was protecting himself, and we had to follow the law.” She says, tearfully, “I just don’t want people to judge me, because I didn’t kill anybody. I wasn’t the one that pulled the trigger.”
Onstage, Dr. Phil welcomes Maddy, as well as attorney and legal analyst Lisa Bloom, author of the new book Suspicion Nation; The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It.
“I took this case very seriously, and I feel like it became a mockery, because when I came out of this, it became that I was the bad guy.”
“I blame the prosecution and the state of Florida,” Lisa says. “In the book, I go through the six biggest blunders they made and, putting it all together, they failed to connect the law and the facts that they had to give jurors like Maddy, who wanted to convict, a road map to conviction.” She gives one example of a mistake she believes the prosecution made. “George Zimmerman showed on a videotape that his gun was holstered behind him inside his pants,” Lisa explains. “He says he was lying on his back with Trayvon Martin on top of him at the moment when Trayvon saw the gun, reached for it and threatened to kill him. Zimmerman says he had to pull the gun and shoot in self-defense.” She continues, “The problem with that story is that unless Trayvon had X-ray vision, there’s no way he could have seen through [Zimmerman’s] body to a gun holstered behind him.”
“Was it difficult to express your opinions in the jury room?” Dr. Phil asks Maddy.
“When I first came in, I didn’t see myself as different,” Maddy says. “But after three weeks of being there, I could tell that I was different — mentally, physically and emotionally … I just always felt a discomfort.”
Did prosecutors fail to prepare a key witness? “To hear from Maddy that the jury discounted Rachel Jenteal is heartbreaking,” Lisa says.
Dr. Phil looks at some of the headlines about Zimmerman since the trial. And, how is Maddy doing now?
“Did [the prosecution] make a strategic mistake in not focusing on the racial profiling aspect of this case?” Dr. Phil asks Lisa.
“Absolutely. The reason this case got so much attention was the racial angle,” she responds. “The defense was very straightforward about race,” Lisa says. “They put a young white woman on the stand who said she’d been the victim of a burglary by one or two African-American men. Simple cross-examination should have been: Do these guys have anything to do with Trayvon Martin?” She continues, “To attribute the wrongs of two African-American men to all African-American men is the very definition of racism.”
Lisa explains the concept of implicit racial bias, which she elaborates on in her book. “Most of us think, ‘I’m not racist,’ right?” she says. “But we do have racial biases. We all walk around with them, because we live in a culture with a lot of negative images of African-Americans, in particular.” She stresses that it’s important to acknowledge and understand these implicit biases in order to overcome them. “We can move on from it,” she says.