Say Her Name: Recognizing Police Brutality Against Black Women

“Put a copy of your driver’s license, registration, and insurance on the dashboard.” That’s what I tell my guy friends when they make their 300-mile road trip for homecoming. “Stay on the sidewalk and keep out of the alley.” That’s what I tell the boys in the neighborhood as they consider a shortcut to the park. 

These are survival tactics that Black men and boys have incorporated into their everyday lives. These are precautions to take so that summer play and fall traditions are not compromised by incidents with the police. Black women — mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, and partners — have offered and echoed this advice (and experienced the trauma that comes from giving this advice) for years. 

We haven’t been giving ourselves the same advice, however. And though the Black Lives Matter movement was started by three Black women, we’ve largely been left out of the national narrative on police violence. Police violence impacts Black women and other women of color just as it does Black men. So sadly, we too need survival tactics for our teen girls attending pool parties and our girlfriends eating at the Waffle House

We need advice on how to handle encounters with the police that can quickly turn violent and even deadly. Black women, like Charleena Lyles in Seattle, were pregnant when killed by police. They were experiencing mental health crises, like Shukri Ali in Georgia and Deborah Danner in New York. They were hanging out with friends, like Rekia Boyd in Chicago.  They had merely taken a wrong turn while driving, like Mya Hall in Maryland and Miriam Carey in Washington, D.C. And Black girls, like Aiyana Stanley-Jones in Detroit, were doing nothing more than sleeping when killed by police. 

We must also consider other forms of police violence that impact Black women and women of color, like sexual assault. Sexual abuse is the second most reported form of police misconduct after use of excessive force. The conviction of an Oklahoma City officer for the rape and sexual assault of 13 Black women represents some of the anecdotal evidence of how Black women experience sexual violence by police. 

Police violence continues to happen to Black women and girls. As Andrea Ritchie describes it, “Black women’s mere presence, speech, and protest of mistreatment ... [are] a threat that officers meet with physical or even deadly force.” This must be acknowledged. This must be part of the national discourse. We need this understanding to change the laws, policies, and practices that govern policing. 

We must “Say Her Name.” 

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Vittoria De Maurizi

Do you realize how much you sound like a nazi? That resistance equals death? The police are not judge and jury - there is such thing as excessive force and it is more often than not applied to minorities at an unequal rate.

Anonymous

You sound pretty racist.... the 2 people that charged with knives were individuals who had mental illness issues .. where as law enforcement is trained to unarm people with knives or to mame them ... not kill all of the white terrorist who killed people were taken down with out being killed hmmm ??? Police are also trained to deescalate situations so your comment is foul where you say "disrespect law enforcement" in this country we have freedom of speech so however wrong stupid or disrespectful people have the right to express themselves just your idea that it gives law enforcement the right to kill on this basis is wicked... and another point you are really a racist to point out "GO FIGHT FOR YOUR PEOPLE WHO SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF THE WORKING CLASS WHO LIVE ON GOVT. ASST. ARE IN GANGS... YOU ARE A JUDGMENTAL RACIST !!! PLEASE DO YOUR FACT FINDING HOMEWORK 1. THERE ARE WAY MORE WHITES ON GOVT. ASST. IN THIS COUNTRY THAN BLACKS ITS NOT EVEN CLOSE 2. THERE ARE WAY MORE WHITE GANGS AS WELL! THERE ARE OVER 200 WHITE SUPREMACIST HATE GROUPS, MOTORCYCLE GANGS AND LAST I CHECK WHITES INVENTED TERRORISM JUST LOOK AT THE FACES AND RACE OF THE LAST HUGE LIFE TAKING TERRORIST IN THIS COUNTRY ALL NON MUSLIM, NON PEOPLE OF COLOR ??? YOU ARE MISINFORMED AND CLEARLY A WHITE JUDGMENTAL RACIST !

American

I can guarantee my last comment wont get approved becuase i am not a liberal democratic who agrees with your nonsense. Its ok for your side to voice your opinion but god forbid the other side does. God bless you.

Stanley Atkins ...

Blacks, poor an the mental illness take the most hits from police. The USA is in need for a civil war
The government is out of control. The people should take their country back from Hitlers regime

Shafia

I agree, since enslavement Black women have bore the brunt of physical violence by law enforcement. Pregnant Black women are particularly viunerable. We speak out against this @JoinMoma.

Anonymous

I call them taxsucking low lives, overtime abusers, the reason home payments go sky high to the point of evictions, suffocating counties across the US with their demand for special treatment while robbing the poor so they can man-rain a life style of living off taxpayers. If they were all gone tomorrow would not miss them, every interactortion ever had with them was discriminatory and a shake down for money. They hate women and treat them with disdain, no one wants to call them for any reason because of how disgusting they are to deal with. They don't give a s**t about anything other than shoplifters because they are corporate asset protectors, not peace officers which was implemented sometime in the 50s and 60s after completion of corporate cou deta take over of US gov. Corrupt to the core entire state needs revamping

Anonymous

The "Say Her Name" movement is such a powerful movement for all women. While we see more cases of police brutality to black women and girls, in reality it can happen to anyone. In the article it touches on sexual harassment of black women in prisons and jails by officers since they are the authority figure. Recently a source leaked that a famous Hip Hop / R&B artist JT (from the girls group City Girls) was 4 months pregnant by a guard in prison. Since she refused to give up the guard she is stuck in solitary confinement until she chooses to give him up. As you can. see no woman is safe no matter your social status or how much money you have. The Say Her Name movement should continue to grow and spread awareness to this growing issue.

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