Let Us Not Forget the Black Women Police Kill

by Kirsten West Sivali for Dame Magazine

It is impossible to turn my eyes away from Ferguson, Missouri.

As law enforcement continues to use military weapons to terrorize protesters seeking justice for slain teen Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, the ache in my soul is primitive and all-encompassing.
Reporters are being arrested, children are being hit with tear gas, and political pundits are being threatened. The stench of fear, fear of the power of collective Black rage and action, is rancid. And that fear breeds desperation. The need to suppress that rage, which screams that we are worth more than this country has shown us, claws at the gate-keepers of White supremacy—elected officials, police officers, and mainstream media—until it eats at them from the inside out.

You cannot control what you can’t contain. Wilson’s cold-blooded execution of Michael Brown, who was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, while in a position of surrender, lit the fuse on years of racial profiling and inequality in the town of Ferguson.

And there can be no peace where there is no justice.

They want us believe that it’s about looting; but it’s not. This entire horrific show of violence being committed in the name of the “law” proves once and for all that the system is not broken. When a Black boy is gunned down and left to bleed out in the street, that’s American justice. When his killer is allowed to leave town under the cloak of anonymity, that’s American justice.

To paraphrase Malcolm X, we are not Americans, we are victims of America. But as conversations about Michael Brown and Ferguson segue into broader discussions about the scourge of police brutality at large, it becomes clear that, despite being on the frontlines, the we in question often does not include Black women.

Be clear: The need to have a very specific, targeted discussion about the fear of Black, male bodies is critical.

As Grey’s Anatomy's Jesse Williams said with razor-sharp precision, actually being threatened by someone is not the same as the fear of being threatened by someone. And it is that racist, deep-seated fear that enables this country to look itself in the eye when Black, male bodies are stripped of their humanity, shot, choked, and beaten with impunity.

Without qualification or deflection, we must address the very real fact that perpetuation of White supremacist capitalist patriarchy depends on the state-sanctioned murder, mass incarceration, and vilification of Black men. Power and dominance is typically contextualized within the construct of cisgender masculinity, leaving the brutalization of Black women, even when it mirrors that of Black men, as an afterthought.
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