Book Review

Black Women Matter Too!

By Michal Ortner

Police involvement in the deaths of several Black individuals across the nation has stirred up fear, questions, and discussions regarding the innocent lives lost. Because many officers have avoided indictments, protests have continued to take place in many cities.

Tanisha Anderson, 37, was killed nearly three months ago in an incident involving Cleveland police officers. In November, Anderson was suffering from a “mental health episode,” so her mother contacted 911. As officers attempted to escort Anderson to a treatment center, there was a struggle, which left her limp. The family claims that police slammed her body on the ground and placed a knee in her back. These events led to her death, which was ruled a homicide.

Another Cleveland death took place when 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by police gunfire the week after Anderson’s death. Rice was carrying a toy gun while walking through a park. Much like Eric Garner and Michael Brown, Rice has become a symbol in the Black Lives Matter campaign, which focuses on excessive police force and irregularities in the treatment of African-American citizens.

Despite the Black Lives Matter movement that is tearing across the nation, the loss of life among African-American women has remained a quiet subject.

“We wanted to make sure [Anderson’s death] didn’t get swept under the rug,” Rachelle Smith said to The Huffington Post after protesting at the Cleveland Center of Justice. “We hear a lot about Tamir Rice and Eric Garner.…There’s no hierarchy in these tragedies, but she was unarmed, and the police were called to help her—there’s this intersectionality of oppression there, and innocence.”

“The reason why it’s important to center girls and women in this conversation is because the other narrative, and it’s not a competing narrative, but it’s just not a complete narrative, is that this only happens to Black boys and men,” writer, Dream Hampton said. “We have always only framed this as a Black male problem, and it is time to tell the entire truth about who police violence and terrorism happens to.”

In addition to Anderson, countless other women and girls have lost their lives at the hands of police officers in the past decade. Some names that are seldom spoken of in the battle against police brutality are Yvette Smith, 47; Miriam Carey, 34; Shelly Frey, 27; Darnisha Harris, 16; Malissa Williams, 30; Shantel Davis, 23; Rekia Boyd, 22; Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7; Tarika Wilson, 26; Kathryn Johnston, 92; and Kendra James, 21 were all fatally shot by police authorities.

Alberta Spruill, 57, died of a heart attack following an unfounded encounter with police. Shereese Francis, 29, and Alesia Thomas, 35, died in similar encounters with police, who used brutal force to remove them from their homes.

“That’s why it’s necessary for this to be out there,” George Francis, father of Shereese Francis, stated. “So that they put a new system in place to prevent this from happening to other people. They will be more careful when they know that they will be brought to account.”

Naturally Moi, February 15, 2015