#SayHerName: Filling in the gender gaps of the anti-police brutality movement

Author’s Note: A post about police brutality against black women is long overdue on Brown Girls Only. I set out to write an article on this subject two months ago, and since then, so much more has happened. The photograph is from this article.

Even in circles that seek equality and justice for the oppressed, the intersection of identities is still a tricky space to navigate. As was the case with the Michael Brown protests, anti-police brutality rallies dish out their own brand of sexism: if not with discrimination, then they do so with erasure. Female participants in rallies are silenced and female victims are overlooked and forgotten.

Conversations that confront this issue are written off as diversion and black women who want their voice heard are given the age-old ultimatum: “Are you a woman first or black first? Do you side with girl power or black power? Do you want to be swallowed up by non-inclusive privileged white feminism or do you want to support your brothers? Erase one of your identities and pick a side.”

On May 20, The African American Police Forum released a report on police brutality against black women. This release kicked off their  #SayHerName campaign, which strives to bring awareness to the lives of black women that were lost at the hands of police.

Since then, spoken word poet Aja Monet has transformed the conversation on oppression as a racial and gender minority and the reality of police as a public menace into a moving work.

In a #SayHerName event in San Francisco, social activist group BlackOUT Collective protested topless in order to bring a heightened sense of what it means to black and a woman in a society that devalues your race and gender.

Ultimately, those who stand up to racial profiling, systematic oppression and brutality by the police should be supported. Those who have died due to racial profiling, systematic oppression and brutality by the police should be remembered.

We must not forget that women are among those ranks. All #BlackLivesMatter, including the lives of black women.

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