Black women's lives matter

Discussions about the protests surrounding the racial bias in the criminal justice system (from the police to the courts) often mention Michael Brown, the unarmed teen gunned down in August by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson (the death of Brown was the beginning of the protests). You’ll also hear of Eric Garner, the 43-year old father of six who was killed by NYPD officers while being placed under arrest. You may also hear the name Tamir Rice, the 12-year old shot to death by a police officer literally seconds after the officer exited his vehicle. Other names that you might here are Dontre Hamilton, Antonio Martin, Darrien Hunt, Kimani Grey, and Kendrec McDade.

Often overlooked in the discussions of African-American victims of police brutality are black women. I have been guilty of this myself. Thanks to an article by Evette Dionne at Bustle, I can work on ending that ignorance:

Protestors in New York flooded the streets last week, toting signs that blazed with images and phrases about cruel injustice. Just a week after similar events in Ferguson, a grand jury ruled that Daniel Pantaleo — the NYPD officer who put Eric Garner, a 44-year-old, black, Staten Island man, in a chokehold that led to Garner’s death — should not be brought to trial for his actions. A failure to indict the police officer responsible for Garner’s unjustifiable, illegal, and unnecessary death signifies why there’s been a breach of trust between communities of color and those tasked with enforcing the laws. In black American communities, we are holding our breath, waiting for whoever’s next. There is no guarantee that the next victim will be a black male, but there appears to be a guarantee that the victim will be marginalized or forgotten by the mainstream media if she is a girl or woman of color.

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, a non-profit organization whose mission is to defend the human rights of black people, found that every 40 hours, a black man, woman, or child is killed by police, security guards, or self-appointed law enforcers. In fact, since the killing of Mike Brown, more than 14 black teens have been killed by the police, including 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a boy in Cleveland, Ohio who was murdered less than two seconds after police arrived at a playground to answer a 911 call related to a black child carrying a pellet gun. We know another Eric Garner is coming, and it is impossible to prepare for the onslaught of grief that will accompany the next traumatic injustice.

But one of the largest injustices is how little we collectively discuss the many women of color who are also killed by police.

Dionne goes on to list 9 women (and one young girl) who were killed by law enforcement officials.

 Aiyana Mo’nay Stanley-Jones

7-year old Aiyana Stanley Mo’nay Stanley-Jones was killed during a SWAT team raid in 2010.

Rekia Boyd

22-year old Rekia Boyd was killed by an off-duty Chicago police officer in 2012.

Yvette Smith

Yvette Smith, 47, was shot to death by police officers as she opened her front door.

Pearlie Golden

Pictured at right, the 93-year old Pearlie Golden was killed by a Texas police officer in 2014.

Tarika Wilson

26-year old Tarika Wilson was shot and killed by an Ohio SWAT team member in 2008.

Tyisha Miller

Tyisha Miller, 19, was killed by four California officers in 1998.

Kathyrn Johnston

The 92-year old was killed in 2006 by Georgia police officers during a botched drug raid.

Gabriella Nevarez

Nevaraz, 22, was killed by a California police officer in 2014.

Eleanor Bumpurs

66-year old Eleanor Bumpurs was killed by NYPD officers in 1984.

All black lives are affected by police brutality. The black women who have had their lives taken by police officers deserve to be recognized.

Black women's lives matter