Black women live on the intersections of racial mythology and misogyny.
The efforts to gear public outrage to the killings, assaults, and rapes committed by the police against Black women and the transgender community has battled against the casual acceptance of racist and sexist injustices by larger societal structures trained to believe that Black women, on some level, deserve what happens to them.
Black women are actively over sexualized by a society that simultaneously considers them aggressive, a deadly reality informed by plantation era politics and upheld by institutions of law enforcement and policing.
The horrific belief that Black women are somehow responsible for their own brutalization and murder has created conditions where law enforcement can rampantly abuse and disappear Black women.
Law enforcement can erase the life of a Black woman with ease and very little accountability; for any reason and at any time.
Driving, something so mundane and regular, has been deadly for Black women across America. Both Mya Hall and Miriam Carey were killed for being Black women who made the wrong turn at law enforcement institutions. Both women had children in the car at the time that they were killed for making a mistake. It is a consistent theme that Black women are killed in front of their children. What becomes of them Of the adults they become?
Sandra Bland was 28 years when Waller County police illegally arrested her, assaulted her and jailed her on trumped up and illegitimate felony charges for assaulting an officer. Her family could not immediately afford to bail her out at the time of her arrest. Sandy told her family that she was injured and abused by the officers there. Three days later Sandra Bland was found dead in her jail cell. There is not a Black person in America who believes that she died the way they said she did, a suicide.
Black Women, Law Enforcement
& Sexual Violence
Black Women, Law Enforcement
& Sexual Violence
Daniel Hotlzclaw, a former Oklahoma police officer, had been sexually abusing Black women for years in his position as a trusted law enforcement officer. patrol officer who was convicted in December 2015 of multiple counts of rape, sexual battery, forcible oral sodomy, and other charges. Holtzclaw was convicted of eighteen counts involving eight different women. He would run background checks to find information that could be used to coerce victims into sex. Of the thirteen women who accused Holtzclaw, several had criminal histories such as drug arrests; all of the women were Black and deliberately chosen by Holtzclaw for these reasons
He relied on the very real assumption that these women would not be considered credible because of their criminal history. These Black women were targeted specifically because they would not be believed or advocated for; the very thing that made them dangerous in the eyes of the public, a criminal history, also made them vulnerable to the whims of a predatory and violent police officer.
Sexual violence is a tool used against Black women. The #SAYHERNAME movement also identifies police sexual assault of Black women as an active method police use to control Black women.
Black women with mental health issues particularly at risk.
Natasha McKenna was a 37 year old mother with schizophrenia from Fairfax County, GA. In 2015, Natasha was placed in custody after police received a call that she was behaving erratically in public. She was kept in the Fairfax County Jail for days, where her schizophrenia worsened because she was not receiving her medication. After one episode when she was unable to obey officers’ orders, police shocked her four times using a 50,000 volt taser. She went into cardiac arrest and later died. In April, her death was ruled “death due to excited delirium.” No officers were charged.
Tanisha Anderson, also 37 and a mother was violently “taken down” by police officers after her uncle called 911 asking for medics—he specifically asked for an ambulance—to help him with his niece, who suffered from schizophrenia. In lieu of an ambulance, 911 operators sent police, who used violent maneuvers to get Anderson into a police car. The moves caused Anderson, who had a 16-year-old daughter, to collapse, and an ambulance was called only after she went limp. Shortly before she died at a nearby hospital, she could be heard reciting The Lord’s Prayer.
The parallels between these women are terrifying and unacceptably all too common. Having mental health struggles should not result in death, yet when it comes to Black women, it is too often the case.
These experiences are consistent with the Black trans community
Within the LGBTQ community, Black trans and gender non conforming people have the highest rates of discrimination in housing, employment and homelessness. This forces many into underground economies that add another layer of criminalization to bodies already susceptible to intersecting forms of violence.
Black transgender and gender non conforming people experience police brutality as it is informed by racism, sexism and sexual violence, similarly violent, silent and vicious as it relates to Black cisgender women.
32% of Black transgender people report being sexually assaulted while in police custody or jail. 53% of Black trans people who have done sex work or participated in underground economies often experience elevated levels of police violence.