#SayHerName

“Because Black girls go missing without so much as a whisper of where…because there are no amber alerts for the amber skinned girls”-Danez Smith

We’ve resorted to gnawing at the flesh of our nail bed until it becomes raw like our emotions, with wounds open like the newspapers containing our eulogies. Holding back our tears until they can no longer be contained and begin to spill like our blood. The constant squeezing of a stress ball reminds us of the pressure to not look “angry”…to not look “threatening”… to not look “suspicious”… Broken mirrors fill our apartments with shards of glass- broken like our spirits. Sharp like the way they will describe our tongue as the reason we lie dead. Reflecting in the same way that our children will at the wake. In pieces like they have left our family, and with jagged edges like the badge of the officer. The frame hollow like the tip of a bullet as it left the gun and entered our flesh. Hollow… like the officer’s heart. Empty…like the excuses they will use as to why we deserved it. We’ve resorted to biting at the flesh of our nail beds until there is nothing left to pick at-you know, the same way they do Black girls who are killed by police. Running their names into the ground until there is nothing left to pick at. Until protests form in the street and people picket. The way they blame us for our own undoing-We bite the flesh of our nail bed… until our flesh is nailed to a cross and a casket becomes our final resting place.

This is for the Black women who have been victims of police brutality; the ones who never saw the front page of a newspaper and who weren’t deemed worthy of a headline. This post is for the Black women who have been assaulted by police…raped by police…murdered by police; For the Black women who have understood the “brothers in blue” to mean our bodies covered in red blood. This is for Black women who have understood “put your hands up” to mean their casket raised before their arms ever could. For the Black women whose names have gone unsaid, ones who’s last breath was their child’s first memory. For Black girls who didn’t make it home, and for ones who were at home and didn’t make it out. For the Black women who have been victims of police brutality.

This is written for the Black women who were deemed as the aggressor in their own home…the ones who were called angry when all they wanted was an explanation…the ones who were called “deserving” of the pain, the assault, of death. This is for Black women; for ones who fear for their sons and themselves. For Black women who spend the whole of their lives protecting and serving only to be gunned down by the ones who have made it a slogan. This is for Black women whose names and stories cease to be told. This is for Black Women.

According to the Washington University in St.Louis, Black Americans, especially Black women are more likely to have been unarmed when murdered by police compared to other racial/ethnic groups. According to their study, “nearly 60 percent of black women killed by police were unarmed at the time of the interaction.” compared to only about 20% of white males (wustl.edu). One of the major stereotypes concerning Black women, and one often used in order to justify police killings is the “Sapphire” -the angry Black woman. The Black woman who is violent, who is aggressive, who is a threat to the officer and to herself. Yet, around 60% of Black women murdered by police were unarmed. Along with this, Michelle S. Jacobs explains in a 2017 publication in the Williams and Mary Journal of Race, Gender and Social Justice, that:

“It is hard to educate the public about violence against Black
women because it so rarely makes the news. The stories of their
deaths may be newsworthy, but the fact that the victim or survivor
is a Black woman can be buried. There is a long-standing problem
with media coverage, or the lack thereof, of crimes committed against
Black women. The lack of coverage was highlighted during the years
when former prosecutor, turned media personality, Nancy Grace,
reported on missing women. All of the women Grace reported about
were White, and the obvious lack of coverage about missing Black women led the late NPR anchor, Gwen Ifill, to coin the phrase ‘”missing White woman syndrome’ to describe the media’s exclusive focus
on White women.”

Hashtags like “#sayhername have begun to broaden the conversation, but there is still much work to be done. When discussing the atrocities committed by the American system of policing, we must include the issues that affect Black women. I implore us to start including Black women in the discourse surrounding police brutality. We have to talk about rape by police officers. We have to discuss the murders of Black women. We have to talk about police responses to situations of intimate partner violence when Black women are involved. We have to include Black women.

https://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1462&context=wmjowl

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