#SayHerName is the latest cause alongside Black Lives Matter to make headlines. Approximately 300 protesters, including a group of topless women, filled the streets in downtown San Francisco last week to protest the killings of Black women by the police that have somehow been neglected by the media. Thousands of protestors flooded the streets of New York City as well in support of female victims Rekia Boyd, Shelly Frey, Yvette Smith, Mya Hall, Kendra James, Natasha McKenna, and Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who was just seven when she was killed by police. This rally is part of a national movement to draw attention to the black women and girls who have been victims of police brutality.
“Although black women are routinely killed, raped, and beaten by the police, their experiences are rarely foregrounded in popular understandings of police brutality,” said co-author Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw of the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) policy brief.
In 2014, a former Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was charged with sexually assaulting 13 black women while wearing his badge. It is reported that he raped, sodomized and preyed on black women because he felt they were of a lower social status and feared the police. Holtzclaw’s actions while deplorable, somehow managed to evade the spotlight and national headlines. The AAPF’s “Say Her Name” campaign is aiming to change that.
“We wanted to launch ‘Say Her Name’ to really uplift the lives and experiences of those who have been killed by police and the many other forms of police violence black women experience,” explains Rachel Gilmer, Associate Director of the African American Policy Forum.
The controversial stop-and-frisk policing tactic, which was deemed unconstitutional in New York City because it unjustly profiles blacks and Latinos, tends to be associated with males of color. However, the AAPF report noted that 53.4 percent of all of women stopped by NYPD officers were black, and 27.5 percent were Latina. The numbers of both black women and men confronted by police is the same, yet the incidences with women are overlooked by media and garner little to no discussion about police overreach.
This lapse in media attention can be attributed to many factors but I agree with Gilmer that “black men and boys are seen as the primary target of racial injustice.” This belief leads to a disregard of incidences that occur with women and girls of color. This gives the false pretense that black women and girls are exempt to police brutality, but the facts and numbers in the AAPF report tell a much different story. #BlackLivesMatter #SayHerName