The Movement For Black Lives Must Include Black Women
Until we as a society are outraged about the murder of ALL Black people, we are no closer to building a just future
“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” — Zora Neale Hurston
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or willfully keeping your eyes closed, you’re already well aware of the issues plaguing Black America in this moment. From the high number of Black Covid-19 deaths to the latest round of open season on Black life and an endorsement from 45 to shoot those rebelling against the injustice of it all, it’s an understatement to say that Black folks are exhausted right now.
We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and many of us watching from home are wondering what we can do to unsuck the world. Because many states are still under stay-at-home orders, much of what we can do is limited to social media activism. While browsing my social media feeds, I’ve noticed a trend: Everyone is outraged about the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, but outside of Louisville, the outrage about the murder of Breonna Taylor seems to exist almost exclusively among Black women.
Breonna’s murderers have yet to be arrested, and I wonder whether that is because we are not as collectively outraged for her as we have been for Ahmaud and George.
Breonna’s story has gotten very little attention in the media after Louisville Metro Police officers burst into her home and shot her while she was asleep in her bed during the wee hours of the morning on March 13. Her story briefly trended nationally around May 13 but has been just a blip on the radar in sustained national coverage. There was some momentum as people fought against her boyfriend’s arrest after he was charged for defending his family against the police officers he thought were home invaders. The attention to bringing Breonna’s murderers to justice, however, seemed to wane once it was announced that the charges against her boyfriend would be dropped.
This unfortunate news is not uncommon. In addition to the risk of assault and rape by police officers, Black women are also at high risk of being murdered by the police. And yet, stories of Black women murdered by the police often go unnoticed. So much so that in 2015, the African American Policy Forum created the report and hashtag #SayHerName to bring awareness to the murders of Black women. While this phrase was created specifically to bring light to the erasure of Black women murdered at the hands of police officers, it is often rewritten to be attributed to men as #SayHisName, once again silencing the fight for Black women.
Breonna’s murderers have yet to be arrested, and I wonder whether that is in part because we are not as collectively outraged for her as we have been for Ahmaud and George. That’s an alarming thought, but I’m running down the list of possibilities, and it can’t be because we’re already exhausted about Ahmaud, because we are now fighting for George. It also can’t be because there is no video footage of her murder, because we had no problem standing up for Trayvon Martin and Freddie Gray.
I, for one, am tired of fighting for the world to see my humanity as a Black person while simultaneously yelling for my fellow Black people to see that the lives of Black women are also in danger. For every social media post about how the lives of all Black people are in danger, there seem to be 10 posts about how dangerous it is to be a Black man during this time.
Fight for Black women like they deserve to live just as much as Black men.
The erasure of Black women has to stop. Black men, I implore you to see us as more than someone who should stand by your side. Black women, I implore you to extend your concern for the lives of your sons, husbands, and boyfriends to those of your daughters, sisters, and yourselves. If you think this does not apply to you because you “pay attention,” I implore you to make sure that you can name more than three Black women who were murdered by the police. If you cannot, it’s time to take a look at your own internalized misogynoir.
All Black lives matter, and the murders of all Black people through police violence and racism are worthy of protests, hashtags, and outrage. We should absolutely be outraged for the loss George’s life. But we should also be outraged for Breonna. We can’t forget any of our brothers and our sisters who’ve fallen at the hands of white supremacy and police violence.
Until we as a society are outraged about the murder of all Black people — which includes women and trans people, we are no closer to building a just future than we are by doing nothing at all. So stand up and fight for Breonna Taylor. Fight for your Black daughters, Black wives, and Black girlfriends. Fight for Black women like they deserve to live just as much as Black men. Say Their Names.