I know that many of y’all don’t want to hear this, but we need to acknowledge that intersectionality and misogynoir come into play, even in areas such as which victims we rally around.
I talked about Ahmaud last week, as did many people, on FB and every other social media platform. It was nice (nice feels like the wrong word here because nothing about what happened to Ahmaud was nice) to see just how many people were showing support, and just as important, actively trying to spur change; with calls and letters to politicians and organizations that could prove useful. I saw people putting their money where their mouth was, donating to his cause. There were people ousting and publicly ridiculing their own family members who took the side of the McMichaels. And while, yeah, online shows of support only do so much, it has its place and it is safe to say that Ahmaud had (as he should have) a full show of support.
And then a few days later, I learned about Breonna Taylor.
Bre was just one year older than Ahmaud, 26.
Bre was minding her own business, just like Ahmaud, when she was fatally shot in her own home. She was shot not once, but eight times. EIGHT.
I don’t know about you, but I painfully imagined how scared she must have been and how slowly time must have seemingly passed as the shots rang out.
I imagined the crack, or maybe it was a bang or a pop, as each fatal shot was fired.
Pop! Two shots.
Bang! Three shots.
Crack! Four shots.
Pop! Five shots.
Bang! Six shots
Crack! Seven shots.
Pop! Eight shots.
I thought about how Bre was shot by police officers, who were trying to find an alleged drug dealer, and how they were at the wrong house.
I thought about Bre’s boyfriend, who, unaware that it was the police who had entered their home and who was trying to protect Bre from armed burglars(as he thought), fired at police. I pondered over the hypocrisy of them arresting Bre’s boyfriend for attempted murder of a police officer, after a police officer murdered her with no recourse.
As I thought these things, I waited for that same show of support Ahmaud received.
It didn’t come.
I gave excuses like: “well, maybe it’s because everyone is still reeling from what happened to Ahmaud.” But all it was, was a shitty excuse, not founded in any real, tangible explanation. How many times do people post about multiple things that matter to them back to back; how many times have I done it? The answer is often.
And I was disappointed in myself for thinking, finally believing even, that this time would be different and that people would care about a murdered Black woman as much as they did about a murdered Black man. But that was silly of me, I know. For that has never really been the case.
Sure, we know about Sandra Bland and Korryn Gaines and they even had a version of widespread support, but that’s not the norm. Most stories of murdered Black women, however similar to those of murdered Black men, don’t receive the same amount of attention. And even when they do, like in the case of Sandra Bland, they also receive a unique kind of vitriol that ties the crossroad of their womanhood+Blackness into a murder justified ball of respectability politics, misogynoir and victim-blaming. And no, I’m of course not saying that Black men who are murdered, aren’t also on the receiving end of victim-blaming and respectability politics, but it’s noticeably…different. Do you not remember the comments made surrounding Sandra? Cause I do.
And if you’re still unsure about what I’m saying, try to remember Trayvon Martin, Eric Gardner, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark and Michael Brown. You didn’t have any trouble remembering them, did you? I’m willing to bet it’s because of how much news coverage they got and how many people spoke out about them. I’m also willing to bet that you can’t recall someone talking about their murder and attractiveness in the same sentence (racists and trolls notwithstanding). Any mentions of their “body count” or hoe-facts or the way their genitalia probably smelled? No, didn’t think so.
Generally speaking, Black men receive overwhelming support from our community and (some) others, from both men and women. Black women, seem to mostly get support from other Black women, or at the very least, Black women are the majority of who is publicly vocal about their support.
Black men, while they are judged by their appearance and the stereotypes associated with, never seem to have their murders deemed justifiable or not due to their attractiveness. But I saw this with Sandra and with Korryn, I saw it often.
With Sandra, there were many jabs at her perceived unattractiveness. From what I saw, this was because of her darker skin, her hair and more pronounced Black features.
With Korryn, there was praise for her attractiveness. Her lighter skin and more conventional attractiveness seemed to do it for some folks. Yeah, colorism and featurism..how sadly classic.
In the end, colorism still wasn’t enough to save Korryn from being easily discarded by others, having her murder sometimes justified.
We talk about intersectionality so much, yet we sometimes don’t seem to be able to see it clearly, even when its impact is staring us in the face. Even in light of death and how we react to it. Even in what we deem important. Even though every time a Black woman is murdered, we talk about how the coverage and support aren’t the same, and we feel anger at the bold misogynoir on display. Even when we KNOW that everything becomes compounded and heavier the farther down the intersectional road we walk.
Breonna Taylor was her name. She was unceremoniously and cruelly murdered by a group of white police officers, who entered the wrong home, over two months ago. She was an EMT, so a hero in her own right. She was beloved by her family and friends. She was, no.. she IS, important.
Just as important as Ahmaud.
So how about we show her the same level of support.
When JanayB isn’t posting memes, scrolling through “wokebook” posts, ordering food and otherwise being your typical millennial, you can find her here destroying white tears and basking in her unapologetic blackness. Get in touch with her at JanayBsays@gmail.com.