This is why we can't ignore women in the #BlackLivesMatter movement
June 16, 2015 at 1:30 am
With the numerous murders of unarmed citizens and violence against Black people, there has been an exceeding push in the past year to recognize and put an end to police brutality. Protests erupted across the nation and a movement began. Unfortunately, only certain names have dominated coverage of the movement, specifically those of Black men. As a result, there have been increasing calls to bring the names of Black women to the forefront to give them the recognition they need and deserve. Despite these efforts, our community’s focus is still largely on Black men. Some believe it should stay that way, like the author of a recent article in The Root called “Here’s Why More Attention Needs to Be Focused on Black Men.” We cannot and we should not ignore the issues of Black men. However, we cannot only elevate the issues of Black men and ignore those of other Black people.
The attention cannot be solely placed on Black men.
Black men already dominate the conversation of police brutality. People know the names of Mike Brown and Eric Garner but not the names of Renisha McBride, Rekia Boyd and many others. They have been present at protests for men murdered at the hands of the police, but will hardly show up for protests for Rekia Boyd. Why do we so easily forget that Black women are affected by the same police brutality hurting our Black men? The recent incident in McKinney, Texas shows us that police brutality is not solely a Black man’s issue, and that when it affects women it becomes more like sexual violence. The names of Black women killed by police should not go unknown because we, too, experience the injustice.
Police brutality is a major issue, but it is not the only one and it should not be treated as such. The issues plaguing the Black community include poverty, colorism and the achievement gap. These are all important and necessary to combat. We all have different ones we choose to focus our fight on, and there is not simply one problem that we can all work on together. We engage in these battles, but we must recognize they all stem from one war — institutionalized racism. Police brutality is only part of this larger issue that affects all Black people in some shape or form.
Since when did the Black man become the brain of the body that is the black community?
This belief that the only way the Black community survives is if we cure the ills of Black men is flawed. However, the Black man is not the only member of the Black community and his problems are not the community’s sole problems. Curing the ills of Black men will not cure the ills of the Black community. Will solving Black men’s problems eradicate the issue of the wage gap? Not only do women generally earn less than men, but Black women tend to earn less than White women, White men and Black men. Compared with the 78 cents that White women earn to a White man’s dollar , Black women earn 64 cents to the White man’s dollar. Will solving the problems of Black men eradicate the issue of domestic violence? Black women are affected by domestic homicide at a rate of two and half times higher than White women.
More attention does not need to be put on Black men. Instead, attention needs to be placed on how racism affects the Black community in its entirety. The Black community’s issues are not solely composed of racism against men. We experience issues such as sexism, transphobia and islamophobia. We cannot continue to ignore the intersectionality of different identities that exists among members the Black community. Is someone Muslim before they are Black, or Black before they are Muslim? Is someone Latino before they are Black, or Black before they are Latino? Am I woman before I am Black, or am I Black before I am woman? For some people there might be a clear-cut answer to these questions, but for me none exists. I am a Black woman. If you want my support, you must start supporting me.
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