Updated: Aug 22
Since as far back as I've heard, read, and known there has been a long history of disregard for the safety of Black women and girls. From the huge racial disparities in public health to the wage gap, to weird dress codes aimed at mainly female students, this trend is nothing new.
This year alone, Black Trans women have been violently and brutally murdered at the hands of the state (directly and indirectly) at alarming rates, yet there isn't much being said or done about it. Trans women are facing job, housing, and healthcare discrimination, just to name a few. There are many grassroots organizations making sure that Trans women have access to the very things they need to survive, through group funding, cash app fundraising, letter writing, etc. I've been in awe at the community that is being built through social media networks to create access for our people.
In 2018, during my own personal Freedom Summer, I was able to lead an effort with Woke Vote and Color of Change, to fight and stand with Black Women. Chikesia Clemons was attacked and harassed by police officers in Waffle House (#BoycottWaffleHouse), in a triggering video which I will not include, she was thrown to the ground and excessive force was used. On August 22, 2019, a split verdict was handed down to Chikesia, being found not guilty of disorderly conduct and guilty of resisting arrest. The judge is said to have sentenced Chikesia with 6 months jail time, one-year probation, and a $500 fine. Jail time was later suspended. This incident shows that not only can we not #WaitWhileBlack, but that our dollars are not valued and we should take them elsewhere. Chikesia is now entering the political world, and is hoping to make some changes in her city! We still stand with you! ✊🏾
On October 12, 2019, in Fort Worth, Texas, Atatiana Jefferson was murdered in her own home by a Fort Worth police officer. October 28th marked the National Day of Outrage, as rallies took place in over 20 cities across the nation. Jefferson's murder made us not only #SayHerName, but it adds fuel to the larger fight to demand change and hold both our elected officials accountable and those whose motto is to "protect and serve." When instances of violence against Black bodies, and more specifically against Black female bodies happen, we see less media attention, less outrage, and less protection.
Before we could recover from Atatiana, we were faced with the abduction of Cupcake McKinney in Birmingham, Alabama, which happened the same day as Atatiana's murder. Cupcake was three years old. Week after week, we hear stories of missing Black girls and women, lost to the trafficking trade, to state violence, and domestic violence. Black women and girls are feeling fearful to do tasks like pumping gas, going out, walking alone, and even attending a birthday party in their own community.
We've seen the mainstream call to action for the life of Breonna Taylor. Oprah even used her platform to call for justice for Breonna. I encourage folks to keep saying her name, but we must be very critical at the ways in which we seek justice. True justice cannot come in the form of an arrest. True justice requires a radical imagination of how we want to shape our world. Arrests and jailings provide punishment, but not justice. True justice looks like collective healing and support for Breonna Taylor's family and community, it looks like firing the cops and making sure that they cannot get a job as a police officer ever again, it looks like amplifying the stories of the many women whose stories have gone untold. Check out the African American Policy Forum and the #SayHerName Campaign, and start learning the stories of our Black women and girls who have been killed at the hands of an unjust system.
Violence towards Black women is nothing new. Just days ago, Meg Thee Stallion felt she had to prove to the public that she'd been shot. She doesn't owe us shit. If anything, we should really evaluate whether or not we truly mean what we say when we say #ProtectBlackWomen or #StandWithBlackWomen. To me, this means actually canceling people who are actively causing harm towards women. When women come out about weirdos, believe them. When someone's body language changes, make note of it. Pay attention, and decide if you will be an active bystander or if you will just have twitter fingers. True cancellation or real accountability looks like believing survivors, listening to their stories and experiences, and holding people accountable for their damn actions. It also looks like uplifting survivors and providing support in the ways that you can.
Here's the thing, Black women always show up. We show up to every movement, we show up for every cause, we show up to the polls, to the schools, we're in homes, hospitals, and classrooms. We can be seen in Politics, in Finance, and in Arts, Media, and Film. But who supports us besides us? Who stands with us? Who protects us? Who puts their money where their mouths are?
While all the above is depressing as hell if we don't share our stories who will? How many more stories and instances of trauma, violence, and even death will we be forced to deal with before we decide that enough is enough?
Black women and girls,
keep shining your light.
Know that you are not alone.
Until Justice Is Real,