America's Failure to Protect the Black Woman
Updated: Sep 28, 2020
The hallmarks of American democracy-opportunity, freedom, and prosperity-have been disproportionately reserved for white people by systematic exclusion and oppression of people of color in the history of this nation. This year is no different from balancing the forces of hope and rage. Once again, the American justice system reinforced a legacy of anti-blackness that feel too commonplace to be a surprise, and yet too unjust to sit back and accept.
There are not enough words to describe the disappointment, pain, and frustrations most of us feel after the Breonna Taylor grand jury announcement.
Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker, was shot and killed during a botched raid in her apartment on the fateful morning of March 13, 2020. Her death resulted in massive protests across the country as the case attracted greater attention. Six months after police fatally shot Breonna Taylor in her Kentucky apartment, a grand jury delivered a long-awaited answer about whether they would indict the officers involved. On September 23rd, the grand jury charged Brett Hankison with three wanton endangerment counts of overshooting into neighboring apartments. A bond of $15,000 was then set. The grand jury did not announce charges against Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, the other two officers involved. The heartbreaking news is that none of the three faces charges directly over Breonna Taylor’s death.
The grand jury's news further proves that the foundation of modern policing and our criminal justice system is rotten. This decision also illustrates what was already evident: A statement from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said, "to reform these structures that regularly sustain heinous acts of violence against Black lives, elected leaders must listen to those communities’ cries and make sweeping reforms. It involves divestment and reinvestment of non-police alternatives from these broken institutions so that Black people are no longer afraid to be killed."
Justice would have been Louisville Metro Police Department officers never shooting Breonna Taylor in the first place. The charges brought against Officer Hankison state that Hankison violated standard operating procedures when his "actions displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life." The ACLU also stated, "the choice to bring these charges alone and so late highlights the indifference to human life shown by everyone involved in Breonna Taylor's murder. That indifference was also demonstrated by the other officers who executed the no-knock warrant alongside Officer Hankison, Attorney General Cameron, who took six months to bring these lesser charges, and the system that allows these injustices to happen regularly."
Until a real systemic change is embraced by our leaders, that indifference and disregard for Black people's lives will continue to be commonplace. I read a quote from Malcolm X that states, "The most disrespected person in America is the Black Woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman." Time and time again, the justice system has failed to protect Black women. The intersectional theory was created by a black woman to explore how her overlapping identities influenced the way she experienced prejudice. Today, we see this play out in the media and the flawed justice system. Intersectionality is rooted in this complicated and often painful duality—a straightforward fact: Black women must be protected at all costs.
Let this serves as a reminder that the system is working exactly as it was designed to, and if we want to change, we need to take our frustrations and concerns to the polls.
REGISTER TO VOTE if you can. Let us continue to demand justice for Breonna Taylor. Demand to defund the Police, and vote like your life depends on it this November because it does.
Breonna Taylor deserves more than magazine covers, a documentary, settlement money, merch, and publication. She deserves justice. The criminal justice system has failed her and countless other victims.
Here are some links to help and be active:
Question of the day: What can we do as a community to protect Black Women?