Home Scandal and Gossip Who’s to blame? Leila Aquino Brooklyn stripper’s unattended child dies in fire

Who’s to blame? Leila Aquino Brooklyn stripper’s unattended child dies in fire

Leila Aquino
Pictured Leila Aquino and her deceased two year old daughter,
Leila Aquino
Pictured Leila Aquino and her deceased two year old daughter, Kalenah Muldrow.

Who bears real culpability for the death of Leila Aquino’s daughter, Kalenah Muldrow? Beyond the finger pointing of a frazzled young mother reckoning with a broken system.

The tabloids have had a field day with 20 year old Brooklyn woman, Leila Aquino who as a minority has found herself vilified for failing to be rich enough to have afforded proper child care services whilst at the same time demonized because she chose the only work she probably knew how to make ends meet.

The story of Leila Aquino took a tragic turn earlier this year when on February 22 her two year old daughter, Kalenah Muldrow came to die after being caught in a house fire at Aquino’s Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn home in the early morning hours after being left home alone by her ‘neglectful’ mother.

At the time the media vilified the mother, pointing out the type of ‘too snazzy’ dress she was wearing as some idiot journalist at the nydailynews did this afternoon, while turning up to a court hearing to how the mother could even dare leave her toddler daughter unattended whilst she went out hustling for dollars.

 Leila Aquino

What the mainstream media have neglected to tell us is that women like Leila Aquino are so often bereft the options that richer, white women are bestowed upon.

Granted one could argue that Leila should never have given birth had she being affluent enough to have afforded a child in the first place, but that too is a superficial argument which hides the reality that single mothers are burdened with damned if I do or damned if I don’t choices.

Had the mother chosen not to go to work, as she had been accused of often leaving her child unattended late in the evening when she put the child to sleep while dancing for dollars, one could argue why the mother failed to take care of her children.

Let’s be honest, taking care of one’s children, let alone oneself with no highly employable skill set is virtually impossible on $8 an hour.

 Leila Aquino

Who knew what support if any the child’s father was offering and the burden of again having to tend to the harsh reality, ‘I’m 20 years old, bereft of a particularly marketable skill set, besides my looks and body and I don’t have anyone who I can ask to take care of my child.’

Then there were reports that the woman’s 89 year old great grandfather, Joe Muldrow lived in another part of the building (could she really have turned to him and how often had she done so in the past?) while there also assertions that Leila Aquino owed a baby sitter money, whom she was trying to avoid.

Wait you say, what if the mother had chosen to leave her child with government services, but those services are already inundated, and only offered for certain hours during the workday. That still left Leila Aquino, the ‘heartless stripper’ between a rock and a hard place.

Offered Shellon Archibald, the paternal grandmother of the child condemned the act of the uncaring mom. She said, ‘You don’t leave a 2-year-old alone in the house.’ She further added that Aquino ‘deserves what she gets.’ She also said that Aquino chose that ‘fast money’ kind of life.

Would Leila have deserved what she got if she was instead working as a school teacher or say a lawyer? Why does her choice of vocation matter when it comes to how one mother lost her child? Is that to imply strippers ‘deserve’ all that comes to them?

The son of Shellon allowed Aquino to live ‘rent free’ in the apartment. The 49-year-old grandmother further said: ‘She had a diploma. She could’ve gotten a regular nine-to-five job.’

Could she have really? Enough to take care of her daughter and enough to save up a deposit to get back on her two feet and how long was she allowed to stay rent free?

 Leila Aquino

Explained the nypost today: Sporting freshly-lacquered nails and a new hair style, Leila Aquino shifted back and forth nervously in her flats and two-piece gray skirt suit as her social worker and Legal Aid attorney huddled with the judge.

Out on $10,000 bond, Aquino — now wearing a bob and bangs — faces up to a year in jail on charges of endangering the welfare of a child welfare for the death of little Kaleenah Muldrow.

The journal has done a careful hit job of demonizing Leila Aquino while failing to acknowledge the reality of women like her who do not belong in the same economic class bracket as most mainstream tabloid writers who can generally afford or have access to extended amenities while vilifying those in society who unfortunately do not have those choices.

And why don’t they have those choices? Why should a young mother have to consider pole dancing to make her ends meet? Why shouldn’t she be able to find respectable employment at livable wages and why was she deprived the opportunity of being able to offer care to her child? Where was this child’s father, her family or other community services she could have used to alleviate her lot? 

Which is to ask why and how did the community come to offer so little in assistance to women like Leila Aquino and why are such discussions scuttled aside?

 Leila Aquino

Then there’s the question of how the child died as a result of the apartment catching fire after Aquino left a space heater on to keep her child warm in the frigid winter. What was she to do? Not provide any heat? Where was the heat that the building should have been providing?

Why isn’t the nypost or the nydailynews asking those questions? What tete a tete functions are those ‘investigative reporters’ currently attending, never mind the demonizing of Leila Aquino, who we could argue are hardly doing their purported job of asking how this unfortunate story came to be. Unless of course that’s not the real job of the media anymore or only when it counts for certain sectors of society …?

Then there are the allegations of a prior history.

Notes a report via the socialistworker: VAGUE REFERENCES in the media to an arrest record have been used to smear Aquino as a “convicted felon” and to suggest she’s an unfit parent, but her attorney revealed she has a single conviction for the minor misdemeanor of “disorderly conduct,” for which she previously served two days of community service.

Does that qualify anyone as a convicted felon? Or is that the editorial desperation of the tabloids desperate to vilify yet another ‘reckless individual’ who we should pity, condemn and stay far away from and of course find new clever ways of cutting off future sources of assistance? Or is the discussion of class consciousness and social inequity which unfortunately facilities such tragedies off the table? 

‘Mom look at the TV, it’s Kim Kardashian breaking the windshield again.’

 Leila Aquino

But there’s more.

Explains the socialist worker: Reports in the media also suggested that there were open child welfare investigations at the time of the fire, implying that an uncaring and inefficient bureaucracy had failed to document Aquino’s unfitness as a parent before it was too late.

In reality, anonymous calls to a child abuse hotline were investigated and deemed unfounded.

Notes the nypostThe Administration for Children’s Services investigated three complaints accusing Leila Aquino, 20, of neglecting 2-year-old Kalenah Muldrow in the past year, but all were unfounded, a spokesman said.

Nevertheless that hasn’t stopped the hot press from going after the mother and making a crusade of vilifying those members of society who do not come from the correct pecking social order and condemning them when tragedies happen instead of asking brave questions as to what is allowing such tragedies to manifest in certain parts of society?

Despite being able to post $10 000 bond (through the support of a fund drive) Aquino now faces the prospect of a year in jail for her daughter’s death after having been charged with endangering the welfare of her child. A charge that might be more appropriately levied at greater society that towards a 20 year old woman stuck between a rock and a hard place, new bob and fingernail job aside ….

 Leila Aquino

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  • sertsj1

    Let’s be honest, taking care of one’s children, let alone oneself with no highly employable skill set is virtually impossible on $8 an hour.

    With no highly employable skill set…

    This is where you went wrong, Christopher. You started the story from the middle. When one has “no highly employable skill set” having children isn’t a thing they should do. It isn’t a right. No one has to do it. But, when you live in a society where personal responsibility isn’t a real thing, things like this happen.

    Never let reality get in the way of your precious feelings.

  • Jasmine

    If y’all don’t take this bs down!! What does her being a minority have to do with anything? I’m black was also a young mother (21 when I gave birth to my son). And never have I ever left my child alone. There is no excuse for what she did. She didn’t care … That’s all! Don’t make this a race war. She’s just trash I wouldn’t care if this excuse for a mother was the color green!

  • Dan

    Your making excuses for this dumb ass bitch. Her job does not matter, her skin colour does not matter. She was encountered with $980 – could have paid for a baby sitter. End off.

  • Chris

    What a joke!!! “White women”?! How can you make her dumbass decision a racial issue? I suppose there are no poor white people out there. Oh wait…I’m a poor white person. We were on assistance for a time growing up. We also didn’t leave toddlers at home by themselves.

  • Ria

    The media does these “hit jobs” to anyone for a story. They even pulverize rich celebs like Kim kardashian for posing nude or Brittany Spears for having a mental breakdown, calling them bad mom’s. No one is exempt from this. The issue that you are raising is an important one and media should really do a better job of investigating and asserting the full story, absolutely. But they won’t, and it should then be up to our city and state to reach out to single mom’s of color and offer better solutions to help them.
    An $8/hr gig can cut it if you’re living rent-free, get a childcare voucher (which I have read that she did through ACS), apply for food stamps (at $8/hr 40 hrs she would qualify with one child), and cut corners and buget smartly.

  • I think almost all parents wouldn’t dare to think to leave a child alone, under any circumstances and for that Leila has to be held accountable for the negligence and the loss of her daughter’s life. Granted.

    But what irks me is the way the media went about and did a hit job on this woman, without ever attempting to understand for one moment (beyond if she is morally inferior for working as a stripper) is why these problems in society exist and what efforts as a community we are making to address them and why on a deeper level, individuals below a certain income or social class are disregarded and left to fend for themselves and $8 an hour is not going to cut it, no matter how many corners you cut it. Unless $1 dollar value meals is ‘cutting it.’? Can you feed that to a child?

    There has to be recognition that these problems exist and community programs which exist that allow all women, single mothers to feel comfortable in reaching out.

    In the end, no one is excusing Leila Acquino’s actions, they were wrong, but we must as a benevolent and thoughtful society ask the underlying questions of how and why such things do happen and whether we are prepared to make changes as opposed to writing what a ‘skank’ some mother is….

  • Ria

    I live alone with my two children and I too do not have support at arms reach but, I know with children, accidents happen and so leaving them alone is an absolute “no-no.” If it wasn’t the heater that killed her, it could have been a stranger knocking at the door, a slip and fall off of a high enough piece of furniture…. The younger the child, the greater the risk. I often times miss out on opportunities to make extra money at work because I don’t have anyone that can babysit but I couldn’t risk leaving them alone.
    I could care less about her occupation, but she lived rent free and should have went for a day time job where she could have enrolled her child in to daycare and taken advantage of daycare voucher programs that would significantly reduce the cost (when my oldest was 3 I did this and only payed $55 a week) and there are plenty of daycares in bed stuy who accept programs. I know, I’m from there. She is very lucky to be living rent free in a neighborhood where rents are, in avg, over $2000/month. I can’t say how long she was being given this opportunity but with an $8/ hour gig, you cut corners and save and do the best you can. She risked her daughter’s well being and she really didn’t have to.