So far this year, 23 Black women were killed in our city, Indianapolis.
Many of them died by gun violence.
As so often happens with Black women, we’re invisible.
Black men get the bulk of our attention when it comes to violence, specifically gun violence, as they make up the bulk of victims and perpetrators. So, it makes sense that we have a blind spot. Black women are in that blind spot.
The precarious life of Black women is often overlooked or ignored. To overlook or ignore, though, implies a purposeful action. I don’t even think Black women are considered important enough to even think about. We just don’t matter.
Oh, we give lip service to the importance of Black women. Sure, we’re called queens, but we’re also called bitches, hoes, thots, hood rats and other disparaging names. Why is it I could only quickly think of just one positive word but a plethora of pejorative ones? And queen is only reserved for those who act a certain way, i.e., respectable to a man’s standard. Queens matter. Queens are valuable, but if you do anything unbecoming of a queen — whatever that is — you have no worth.
We think we have to trade one gender for another as we both can’t have value at the same time. Blockbuster movies of the ‘90s focused on the perilous life of Black boys and young men. Who can forget Charles Dutton’s pinnacle line in “Menace to Society”? “Being a Black man in America isn’t easy. The hunt is on, and you’re the prey.” Dutton should’ve won an Oscar off that line alone. He delivered it with so much force and it resonated so deeply. Around that time there was a definitive movement to focus on how important Black fathers are to Black boys. Focusing on the role of Black fathers in the lives of Black girls on a large scale came much later.
I established I’m a womanist early on when I began writing this column. I go hard for Black women. Our lives are just as valuable as Black men’s. Now, some Black men will take that to mean I’m anti-Black men just as some white people will take my stance against white supremacy to mean I’m anti-white. I’m not against Black men, but I am against misogyny and sexism. So, if you, a Black man, happen to be a misogynist or sexist, then I have a fundamental difference with you just as I do a racist.
So, if you’re thinking 23 Black women killed out of 150 isn’t that many, we have a fundamental difference. While the number may not be as high as the number of deaths of Black men, it’s a significant number of women who senselessly lost their lives.
Unfortunately, it seems domestic violence or intimate partner violence plays a role in the deaths of women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports Black women have the highest rate of homicide and 55% are related to domestic violence. We’re also more likely to be killed by a firearm. That means a Black woman could likely die at the hands of someone who professed to love her.
I really want that to sink in. Black women are being killed by people who tell them “I love you” or at the very least are supposed to like them — not random strangers, not enemies. People Black women trust. That’s a key difference when it comes to violence between men. Men often have beef that spirals out of control. There’s no trust. Violence isn’t the way to resolve conflict, but it’s not a surprise when two people dislike each other and it occurs. However, no one expects to be killed by a loved one. It’s the antithesis to love.
Instead of policing Black women’s bodies how about we police the behavior of those who harm them? How about we do a better job at valuing Black women — regardless of their queen status — and protect them? That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have agency or can’t defend herself, but it means when we see harm done to Black women — regardless of who the perpetrator is — we stand up for her.
Let’s go just as hard for Black women as we do for Black men.
(Oseye Boyd is editor of the Indianapolis Recorder.)