Do these names sound familiar to you? Maybe a few jump out, but if I casually listed these names in conversation, would you know all of these women? Would you know them as you know Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin?
All of these women and more were killed senselessly at the hands of police, yet have been rendered forgotten in the continued fight for black justice against police brutality. As a black woman in America, this is an intersectional burden we carry–fighting for the freedom of black people while advocating for the protection and acknowledgement of black women.
Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality in 1989, when she published a paper in the University of Chicago Legal Forum titled “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex.” In her writing, Crenshaw describes how women’s “intersecting identities” meant they experienced and were effected by a myriad of social justice and human rights issues.
We are not just black people, we are also black women. We are also black, queer women. We are also black, queer, disabled women. And on, and on. We are a combination of all of our experiences, all at the same time, which makes our fight for black people complex and extremely necessary. Crenshaw notes,
“Although Black women are routinely killed, raped, and beaten by the police, their experiences are rarely foregrounded in popular understandings of police brutality.”
Protests erupted this past week over the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, however Breonna Taylor’s story is slowly losing publicity as the stories of black women often do. The GoFundMe started in her name only recently reached it’s goal, as protestors continue to shout her name in the midst of our collective anger for the deaths of black people by police.
So how do we remember and fight for these women? We do just that. We remember and fight for them.
[Before you continue, take a moment to research all of the names listed in the above photo]
The #SayHerName movement seeks to “shed light on Black women’s experiences of police violence in an effort to support a gender-inclusive approach to racial justice that centers all Black lives equally.” It also speaks to the alarmingly high number of cases of sexual misconduct, assault, and rape by police against women–an issue that often goes ignored.
Wondering if any anti-violence organizations, specifically sexual violence, are doing any type of organizing or working together to develop resources/services. Sexual misconduct is the second highest form of police brutality, people are sexually assaulted in police custody.
— venkayla haynes (@VenkaylaHaynes) May 31, 2020
As highlighted in the Say Her Name Report:
“The erasure of Black women is not purely a matter of missing facts. Even where women and girls are present in the data, narratives framing police profiling and lethal force as exclusively male experiences lead researchers, the media, and advocates to exclude them. For example, although racial profiling data are rarely, if ever, disaggregated by gender and race, when race and gender are considered to- gether, researchers find that “for both men and women there is an identical pattern of stops by race/ ethnicity.”
We must do our part to remain educated on intersectionality and why black women’s cries are worthy of radical movement and protest. (view Crenshaw’s video on the topic below, listen to her TED Talk here)
And by “we” I don’t mean other black women. It’s up to those who don’t look like us, but expect our continued labor and our support, to do this work.
We can fight for all, we can acknowledge all, we can remember all as we protest. Our stories as black women, do not negate our stories as a collective black people. It’s not about division, it’s about a greater healing and seeking of justice. That is the only way we will ever truly be free.