At the start of the current Civil Rights movement in the US, many organizations and universities were showing their support and solidarity for Black Lives Matter Global Network. As a Black person who has been speaking out against and fighting racial injustices in this country at least since elementary school, I was moved to finally see large organizations acknowledging that a problem does indeed exist. However, there was a common echo that was vibrating, buzzing through their words t that I could not always sit idly by and watch. It is the practice of calling out injustices that are perpetrated against Black males. Therefore, late one evening after reading the umpteenth email providing statistics about the crimes acted against Black males, I had had enough. Below you will find my response to one of those emails. #BlackLivesMatter #SayHerName
"Thank you for composing such a letter to the University community on behalf of my
community, Black and African Americans. I cannot begin to understand the gravity of your job and the work that you do in an effort to improve the lives of oppressed and historically marginalized populations at [our] University.
This email is for gratitude and to support you in continuing your work. One part of your message that stood out to me was about the violence particularly against Black men and boys when it comes to law enforcement. While the information is all true, the message about the harm that comes to the Black community becomes divided. To put it into perspective, rates of police violence, including deaths, against Black women, girls, transwomen, and non-binary nearly match that of the rates of Black boys and men. However, the problem is that Black women, girls, transwomen, and non-binary are invisible populations. It is a form of systemic oppression that our stories, experiences, and rights are not fought for. Violence against us, our bodies, and our deaths do not cause public outrage. The message for Black people should stand united. The message needs to stop centering on men and boys, and report the fact that violence against Black people at the hands of police needs to stop - period.
Why does this matter? This matters because if we think historically in this country, Black people, as a whole, experienced physical and emotional violence, oppression, and lynching without a divide in numbers starting around the year 1619. Yet, when looking at constitutional rights, Black men obtained the right to vote, for example, in 1870. However, it was another several decades before Black women obtained the same right. In fact, Black women obtained the right to vote in the year 1965, nearly half a century after White women did in the year 1920 and almost a full century after Black men. That makes me wonder, if we continue to let this message of violence against Black and African American people state that it only occurs against Black and African American men and boys, will Black and African American girls, women, transwomen, and non-binary people continue to be beaten and murdered at the hands of police for 100 years after the violence stops against Black men and boys. I surely hope not.
As you move forward in your work, I do hope that you and your team consider how you can further support the rights of the Black community so that the message is not lost. This message is this: Black lives matter.
Thank you immensely for the work that you do. I am truly grateful to and for you.
A Black life that matters.
It is important that I never assume people hold the same knowledge that I cherish. I have attached two articles that discuss this topic and a video with close captioning that explains intersectionality for Black women. At the end of the video, Dr. Crenshaw addresses the issue of police violence against this population.
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