A few weeks ago, after days of grieving the executions of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, I stepped off a train and into the streets to demand justice. I marched for three days and when I took rest my free time was spent glued to my laptop as news and movement updates filled my screen. By the end of that week, I was exhausted. I was starving and dehydrated from marching and sleep deprived from staying up to get information. I’ve had reservations about the lack of intersectionality in the movement, but I persisted. I figured, post Sandra Bland, the deaths of Black women would get much needed attention. I told myself that things might be different even though the marches and coverage, per usual, centered cisgender heterosexual men.
I should have known better.
Last Monday, Korryn Gaines was murdered by the Baltimore Country Police on Monday and the public’s response to her death validated my feelings. Castille’s and Sterling’s deaths prompted over a week of continuous outcry and protesting. Marches were planned for these men before their bodies touched dirt. In contrast, the only people I see consistently speaking up for Gaines is other Black women and Black LGBTQ folks. Black men, even the “woke” ones, have been silent or blaming Gaines for her demise. Meanwhile they have Malcolm X or members of the Black Panther Party for SELF-DEFENSE as their Facebook cover photos.
Y’all, I’m tired.
Black women have been risking life and limb for Black liberation for centuries. Harriet Tubman freed slaves. Ida B. Wells was run out of town for speaking out against the lynching of Black men. Women like Angela Davis, Elaine Brown and Kathleen Cleaver were the backbone of the Black Panthers. Countless others planned protests, rode freedom buses and tended homes for their husbands in the movement. We have been beaten, lynched and raped for doing this work. Even in the 21st century, we’re making sacrifices. Black women don’t report abuse because no one wants to see another brother in jail. The Black Lives Matter movement was birthed by three Black queer women. Alton Sterling’s wife was a pillar of strength during a press conference as her child cried out for his father. Diamond Reynolds remained calm as Castille, her fiancé, bled to death inches away. Even as children, we are conditioned to be mules. Reynolds’ four-year-old daughter, who was present for the whole ordeal, comforted her mother as they sat together in the backseat of a police cruiser. Still, we show up. In a now infamous video, Gaines lectured her son on how the cops kill men that look like his uncles and father. Sandra Bland made countless videos about police brutality against Black men before her death.
Black man, what do we get in return?
Before Gaines was branded crazy, people blamed Bland for being too mouthy to her arresting officer. The deaths of other Black women, like Rekia Boyd, Kathryn Johnston and 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, are mentioned as an afterthought, if at all.
We’re called bitches, hoes and thots all over the internet and sometimes, to our faces while Becky sits upon a pedestal with our appropriated features. We get cursed out, physically assaulted or even killed for rejecting your advances. Sixty percent of Black girls are sexually violated before they reach adult hood and predators like R.Kelly are still allowed to prosper. Black trans women are being killed at an alarming rate. Skye Mockabee, whose body was found in a Cleveland parking lot on July 31st, was the 17th confirmed death of transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2016 and third trans woman to be killed in that month. Often, they’re killed by Black cisgender men.
Black queer people still risk being ostracized, assaulted and killed. Early 2016, Anthony Gooden and Marquez Tolbert had boiling water thrown on them by Martin Blackwell, boyfriend of Gooden’s mother, as they slept in bed. In 2014, Crystal Jackson and Britney Crosby, a Black lesbian couple were killed by the latter’s father because he disapproved of their relationship. These might seem like extreme examples but it isn’t uncommon for me to hear anti-LGBT speech from Black men while sitting on the train, working or doing something else mundane. Friends have been approached by men for being too flamboyantly gay or gender non-conforming. People have screamed dyke at me as I walked down the street. Despite this, LGBTQ people are some of the most dedicated activists in the movement for Black lives.
By now, I’m sure some have stopped reading and want to hop in my comment section screaming #notallmen. To that, I say, not all police officers are killing Black people but it’s enough of them for it to be a problem. Same rule applies to this narrow minded movement.
I refuse to wait for trickle down liberation while supposed activists fight to replace white supremacy with Black patriarchy.
You mad? Meet me in the comments section.