Kimberlé Crenshaw, a Black feminist legal scholar whose work is focused on police violence against Black women, says plainly that gun violence against Black women and girls rarely gets the attention it deserves in the press. The spotlight is more often pointed at the violent gun deaths of Black men.
“The headlines are: ‘Black men and boys face astronomical homicide rates,’ or ‘Black men and boys face an increase in homicide that’s deeply troubling.’ You might get a paragraph that says: ‘And so are Black women and girls.’ ... Often the data doesn’t even get reported,” Crenshaw says. “The heightened vulnerability of Black women to violence should be seen and addressed as a crisis alongside the already recognized epidemic of Black male homicide,” she adds.
The data found that like most women in the nation, Black women and girls were often killed in domestic violence situations. The suspect was someone they knew, but in homicide reports from the FBI, the relationship between the victim and her perpetrator is often listed as “unknown.”
In Kentucky, the state where Breonna Taylor was killed by white police officers, murders of Black women and girls tripled in 2020. In Washington, D.C., 25 Black women were killed in 2020 versus 10 in 2019. In fact, no other women were murdered in D.C. in 2019, according to the report.
Some states have taken the bull by the horns. Minnesota became the first state to institute a task force on missing and murdered Black women and, The Guardian reports, others states are following the lead.
Stephanie Howse, a city council member in Cleveland, Ohio, says, “We don’t have to be bystanders. … Show me the places where Black women and girls are thriving. … What does it look like? What does it feel like?”
Cleveland recently launched a 14-member Commission on Black Women and Girls to research and put forth solutions after a Bloomberg CityLab report found that the city’s livability ranks worst for Black women.
“Until it gets worse, that’s when they’re going to make a change. It’s sad to say that, as more women get killed, they’ll want to do something about it,” Jawanna Hardy, founder of Guns Down Friday, a D.C.-based support group for families who’ve lost children to homicide, suicide, and mental illness. told The Guardian.
A national march against Black femicide is being planned in D.C. in late August of this year.