Happy Birthday Breonna Taylor: Say Her Name

Happy Birthday Breonna Taylor: Say Her Name

“Black Lives Matter.” This saying is one that we have adopted to fight systematic racism and police brutality. These three words have become our go-to when lives such as Eric Garner, George Floyd, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown have been killed for the color of their skin. But there’s something all of these names have in common… they are all men.

While Black Lives Matter, it’s important to recognize there are people in the Black community who still feel their specific identities prevent them from being included in any hashtag or making major headlines.  Although it’s important to recognize that Black men historically have been seen as a threat to society, we must acknowledge that women and LGBTQIA+ individuals are often left out of these conversations.

The Black Lives Matter movement was actually founded by three women — Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi — who were angered by the acquittal in 2013 of George Zimmerman, the man who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

“We’re not trying to compete with Floyd’s story, we’re trying to complete the story.”— Andrea Ritchie, author of “Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color”

“Black Lives Matter” should be inclusive of all Blacks who face discrimination and fear for being just who they are. The #SayHerName movement is a response to the mainstream media’s habit of neglecting the experiences of Black women regarding violence, and specifically police brutality. #SayHerName’s goal is not to replace Black Lives Matter or weaken its strength, but aims to add perspectives and layers to the conversation of racial injustice. We want to make sure these underrepresented voices are no longer missing from our public discourse because ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Justice for Breonna Taylor

Today, May 4th Breonna Taylor would have been celebrating her 27th birthday but instead we are remembering her life. Taylor was killed in her own bed when three officers in plain clothes entered her apartment using a no-knock warrant.  She was shot at least eight times and the person they were actually looking for was found later. It’s also important to note that she was a Kentucky EMT during a public health crisis, we needed her.

Breonna’s law recently passed the Public Safety Committee, that would ban no knock warrants which contributed to how she was killed in the “safety” of her own home. A simple knock could have saved her life. Although this happened March 13th, justice still has not been served. An investigation wasn’t even opened until 3 months later. Many have pointed out that during the current protests fighting for George Floyd, we don’t hear her name enough. SAY HER NAME.

Sandra Bland

The hashtag “Say Her Name” was coined in 2015 by the African American Policy Forum  (AAPF) to raise awareness for Black female victims of police violence. “#SayHerName aims to change the public perception that victims of police brutality and anti-Black violence are predominantly male by highlighting the gender-specific ways in which black women are disproportionately affected by fatal acts of racial injustice.” The goals of this movement were outlined after Sandra Bland’s fatal encounter with the police.

Female victims of violence are often less recognized than their male counterparts, and the number of supporters seem to decrease. #SayHerName aims to raise awareness of intersectionality and how gender and race simultaneously act in ways to oppress Black women.

Nia Wilson. Korryn Gaines. Erica Garner. Regis Korchinski Paquet. Natasha Mckenna. Miriam Carey. Tanisha Anderson. Shukri Said. Marielle Franco. Kayla Moore. Agatha Felix. Rekia Boyd.

According to Kimberlé Crenshaw, one of the founders of the AAPF, black women’s continued exclusion from stories about police brutality, racism, and anti-Black violence contribute to an erroneous notion that black men are the chief victims of racism and state-sanctioned violence.

The movement reveals how multiple social identities (including gender, sexual orientation, and class) impact an individual’s experiences with anti-Black violence. As a Black community, we need to consciously internalize our homophobia and transphobia that is preventing us from fully being progressive in our movement of valuing all of our lives. Solidarity happens when every Black person regardless of gender, sexuality, sex, etc. feel their lives are equally as important.

Iyanna Dior is a Black trans woman who was brutally attacked by a group of BLACK men, the same group we are on the frontlines fighting for. Queer and transgender people should not have to continuously remind their own community of their own prominence. Although these women were not killed at the hands on police, they are forever impacted by the violence afflicted upon them or their family.

Let’s keep in mind women such as Darnella Frazier, the 17-year old girl who recorded George Floyd’s death who has been getting psychological help for witnessing something so traumatizing. She has been getting bullied for not getting involved as a young girl against 4 police officers, and we need to protect her also. Although she did not lose her life to police brutality, she lost her innocence.

Let’s shield young girls who don’t have the opportunity to be children due to having to face at such a young age trauma as a result of police brutality, like George Floyd’s daughter Gianna. Instead of seeing her father every day, she’s shouting “daddy changed the world.”

The History

Black women have been common victims of police brutality for over a century, however, their stories are often left out of the mainstream narrative. This isn’t a new issue, Black women have always  been subject to violence from the police. Fannie Lou Hamer was a legendary civil rights activist from the 1960s and was beaten repeatedly for standing up . In NYC the police killing of Elenor Bumpers  in 1984 became a symbol of the assault Black women endure. In 1977 Eloise Williams was permanently disable and traumatized by an assault from a police officer in Philadelphia. In the end she won $250,000, but nothing was done to the cop who tragically beat her.

Currently none of the officers who were involved in Breonna’s death have been arrested or fired, although the FBI is investing the case. How we can celebrate Breonna’s birthday today is to use our resources of an action plan to honor her life and demand justice. Additionally, we can make the conscious effort to make the lives of all Black people equally as important and say their names also.
  • Breonna Taylor’s Go Fund Me Link.
  • Website of Action Items
  • Contact information of officials
    • LMPD: 502-574-7111 
    • Mayor Greg Fischer 502-574-2003

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