In early March, police executed a no-knock search warrant at the apartment of Louisville EMT Breonna Taylor. The search warrant was written for a home 10 miles away for a suspect who had already been taken into custody eight hours prior, and Breonna’s boyfriend believed their home was being broken into. When he fired a shot in defense of what he believed to be (and by all definitions was) an invasion, police returned 20 rounds, striking Breonna eight times. Breonna was killed in her sleep; her boyfriend is facing charges of first-degree assault and attempted murder of a police officer.
Say her name.
When the lives of our Black friends and family are taken through individual or systemic racist violence, anti-racist activists and organizers push to keep their stories in the public eye, to keep pressure on systems that cause harm, and to make sure we do not forget them, that we stay aware and focused on racist stories and structures and the people they impact. And even then, much of the narrative focuses on the experiences of Black men. Black women, the violence they experience at the hands of racist actors, as well as their brilliance, wisdom, and humanity, are often lost in the public dialogue about racist violence. And yet, we know that violence against Black women is and has been normalized for centuries, deeply intertwined with sexual violence and other efforts to control their bodies and sexuality.
We cannot end sexual violence without ending violence against Black women.
In our ongoing work on behalf of survivors, we know that racism and oppression can not continue to exist if we are truly dedicated to ending sexual violence. We must step up as white accomplices and question why, as individuals who are committed to this movement, we often overlook the violence experienced by Black women. As the attorney hired by Breonna’s family stated, “If you ran for Ahmaud, you need to stand for Bre”. As white accomplices in this work we ask that you all make space to reflect on why cases of Black women experiencing violence continue to be missed and how we are contributing to this dynamic. When Black women in our own communities are harassed by neighbors, threatened by armed “search parties,” such as the most recent case in Pender County, and killed in their sleep by government employees, we must question what is happening. In our consumption of media we must ask critical questions about why all the stories, true crime documentaries, and podcasts primarily focus on the murder and disappearance of white women, or what has been termed “Missing White Woman Syndrome”.
Black women matter. We need them in our communities as mothers, friends, healers, leaders, partners, and thinkers. They deserve to be safe from violence and harassment.
Breonna was a healer. She was an EMT who looked forward to pursuing a career as a nurse. She was a community servant who got up every day and looked to make the world a better place. She was a fighter. She was our ally in this work to create space for Black women and girls who are survivors of sexual violence to see a reflection of themselves in what could be their most vulnerable moment, and know they are not alone. She was a leader, showing younger generations of black and brown girls that they can be helpers too.
We grieve the loss of Breonna Taylor, and of Sandra Bland, Monika Diamond, Atatiana Jefferson, Chanel Scurlock, Janisha Fonville, and countless other Black women today and throughout the history of this country whose lives have been taken unjustly and too soon. We say their names and honor their memories.
And we ask that you lean into critical conversations by:
- Contacting your local representatives in Congress about the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act that was introduced in Oct of 2019 and has not passed.
- Examining where you identify, ally or accomplice, and educate yourself of how to respond to acts of racial violence depending on your ability to engage with the movement.
- If you identify as an accomplice, examining the systems you are a part of/ interact with and what oppression and racism currently exist
- Checking out books from NCCASA Resource Library to learn more about how racial violence intersects with gender violence, including Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. Watch No! The Rape Documentary.
- Fighting for Breonna: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JuM1RR6tq6y8QkP-dMLaDGx3td_tOfq-0uJssDzN4i0/preview?pru=AAABcjhFFIM*ZJnMIFOf-BrYMoF2bOugYw
Say her name.
Deanna Harrington, Director of Member Services & Technical Assistance
Christy Croft, Prevention Education Program Manager
Brynn Fann, Training Support Specialist
Madison Ferrara, Member Services Assistant
Skye David, Staff Attorney
Gabriella Neyman, Training and Communications Specialist
Leah Tugwell Poole, Rural SA Services Specialist
Courtney Dunkerton, Anti-Human Trafficking Specialist
Caroline Gill, Financial Specialist
Anna Wallin, Program Evaluator