Before George Floyd, there was Breonna Taylor. Before Philando Castile there was Sandra Bland. Before Mike Brown there was Rekia Boyd. Before Trayvon Martin there was 7 year old Aiyana Stanley-Jones…
For most reading this, the names of Breonna Taylor and Sandra Bland – two black women who lost their lives at the hands of US officers may ring a bell, but the other names maybe not so much.
How about Atatiana Jefferson? Pamela Turner? India Kager? Charleena Lyles? Miriam Carey? Kayla Moore?
Unfortunately, these names are just a few examples of cases where police violence against black women have failed to attract as much attention as police violence against black men.
Just like black men, black women are killed by police officers at a disproportionate rate compared to women of other races. In the US black women make up just over 10% of the population, yet they account for c.33% of all women killed by the police. Despite this, it is often the unlawful killing of a black man that ignites global outrage.
It took 9 days after the murder of George Floyd for all four officers involved to be arrested and charged for his murder. Progress that was made after 9 days of public outrage, involving protests and riots in all 50 states across the US as well as multiple global mass protests in solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement. Sadly, justice for Breonna Taylor who was killed after being shot 8 times by US officers whilst asleep in her bed is yet to come. She was murdered almost 3 months before George Floyd.
Unfortunately, it has become commonplace to forget that many black women, transwomen and girls remain vulnerable to the same state-sanctioned violence that black men and boys experience. #SayHerName is a campaign and social movement that seeks to raise awareness for black female victims of police brutality and to ensure that their stories are not only recognised but heard. It was created in 2015 after the death of Sandra Bland, a 28 year old black woman who was stopped for a minor traffic violation then later arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer. Sandra was found dead in a jail cell 3 days later.
Now, before I end I think it’s important to stress that the aim of this article was NOT to spark a gender debate when discussing the adversity of black people at the hands of the police; but to simply highlight the disparity in the global awareness of police brutality against black women compared to black men.
It’s 2020, and although it’s been a pretty rough year so far we are currently in the midst of great social solidarity, movement and change. This is why now more than ever we need to continue to say Breonna Taylor’s name and we need to say it with the same power, anger and conviction as we have been for George Floyd. Together we can not only help fight for justice for Breonna, but also shed light on all female victims in this fight.
So let us ALL – Say. Her. Name. Too.