by Kelly Washington, Contributing Writer
#Black Lives Matter! This phrase is resonating from every mountaintop to Hennepin County in Minneapolis, to every country from the Americas to Europe. Unfortunately, it is because we are juggling so many hashtags at this tumultuous time in our country. #AhmadAubrey, #GeorgeFloyd, #TonyMcDade and somewhere in there lies a hashtag for Breyonna Taylor. Breyonna Taylor was a 26-year-old EMT shot to death in her apartment by the Louisville Metro Police. The judge issued the police officers a no-knock warrant, which allowed the police to enter Taylor’s apartment without identifying themselves. After a brief confrontation with Taylor’s boyfriend, who shot first in self-defense and striking an officer because he thought someone was breaking into the house, the officers returned fire, killing Taylor. She was shot eight times. This incident happened in March. Taylor’s story is newsworthy and should have garnered national attention. Instead, her story was almost buried and was not treated with the same urgency and awareness.
Black people killed by law enforcement gained momentum largely because of the Black Lives Matter movement. Ironically, three women started the Black Lives Matter Movement; however, it seems to be focused heavily on men. Black men primarily become the lamentable symbol of the embattled and fractured relationships between law enforcement and the Black community. #SayHerName is another social movement that raises awareness for Black female victims of police brutality; however, Breyonna Taylor’s story seemed to be overlooked in these movements and almost ignored by the media. Black women are also killed for merely existing. At times, a Black woman’s presence and protest of mistreatment are met with deadly force from police officers. Black women are also subject to racial profiling, arrested unlawfully, physically, and sexually assaulted, and they have their rights and dignity violated by the police. Yet people do not seem to care about it. Black women are often left out of the national narrative as it pertains to police brutality.
Kimberle Crenshaw, Director of Columbia Law School Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, contends, “Although Black women are routinely killed, raped, and beaten by the police, their experiences are rarely foregrounded in popular understandings of police brutality,” said Crenshaw, “Yet, the inclusion of Black women’s experiences in social movements, media narratives, and policy demands around policing and police brutality is critical to effectively combatting racialized state violence for Black communities and other communities of color.”
Crimes against Black women are easily erased because of the lack of accountability and media coverage. When Black women who are impacted by police violence are left out of the national narrative, it is difficult to educate the public about it. Just like Black men, Black women also need to be advised on how to handle encounters with the police. This is especially important because Black women are dealing with an oppressive system of white supremacy; they are also dealing with a system of male supremacy and are easily a target for racial injustice. A Black woman’s skin color makes her a target and combined with her gender, means that she will not get as much attention in the mainstream media. This is why more Black organizations need to bring more exposure to the untold plight that Black women face against law enforcement, with the same energy that they give men. SAY HER NAME!
Kelly Washington is a writer and educator living in Chicago. Find her on social media at @Blackbutterfly413.
This article originally appeared in the Chicago Defender.