Say her name

Columnist Taelore Spann describes the consequences of being Black in America. 

I am a young Black woman.

In different communities, these statements have completely different meanings. Yet most commonly, it seems Black women are overly sexualized, underrepresented and disrespected. 

From the time of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Black women have experienced rape, oppression and misunderstanding. Imagine: rape by the slave owners, beatings to submission; mutilation to their bodies by “scientists." Black women are disparaged to comedic relief and entertainment through characters like Jezebel, who depicts African American women in overly sexualized roles. This specific role and character was used to justify the rape and misconduct initiated by slaveowners.  

You may be asking yourself why you should care about something that happened years ago. You should care because it's still relevant today.

Black women are still one of the top five women groups being targets of sexual assault,” according to Reach of Clay County.

According to Mic, in order to fit the mold, women must have their hair be straight and must be plain, like those of white women; society considers Black individuals' natural hair as unprofessional.

Black women continue to be an oppressed and underrepresented group. Just look how the justice system failed Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland and so many others.

“Since 2015, police have fatally shot nearly 250 women," according to The Washington Post. "Like Taylor, 89 of them were killed at homes or residences where they sometimes stayed. The names of these women are often not as well-known as the men, but their deaths in some cases raise the same questions about the use of deadly force by police and, in particular, its use on Black Americans.” 

I am a young Black woman. And I happen to also be a young Black person in America. 

Being Black in America is like being regarded as a weapon because we are depicted in the media as gangsters, murderers and menaces. Being Black means I can’t possibly belong in a middle class neighborhood safely. Trayvon Martin couldn't

Trayvon Martin was murdered by a neighborhood watchman, but the system justified the kill because he “looked suspicious." If thats all it takes to justify a murder, am I next?

Being Black in America means that I could die by the hands of an officer because being Black means I fit a general description of a perpetrator.

Being Black in America means even though we were “free” for 52 years, we have yet to see all our freedoms. Those freedoms are those written into the Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights. Black people are still treated like the slaves we were brought here to be. Once again, we have seen how a Black person could be murdered in cold blood. So, again, I say: Am I next? 

Taelore Spann profile pic

Taelore Spann is a sophomore in political science and international studies with a minor in African American studies.

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(2) comments

Milty Friedman

Yes, it is true that since 2015, nearly 250 women in total have been killed by police officers. However, only 48, a fifth, were Black, according to the Washington Post. That’s about five black women killed by cops each year in the entire United States. That’s not very many and it certainly does not indicate that black women are being shot down willy nilly by the cops.

By contrast, about 500 black women are killed every year by their spouses, which is a hundred times the number killed by the cops. The primary threat to black women by far is black men with whom they are involved in intimate relationships.

In the case of Breonna Taylor, she was killed standing next to her boyfriend, who opened fire on police, wounding one in the leg. As for Sandra Bland, she hung herself in jail after going berserk at a traffic stop and getting herself arrested. Had she remained sane and accepted her traffic ticket like the rest of us, she would be alive today. Neither Taylor nor Bland are dead because of police misconduct but rather because of their own wildly bad judgement.

Trayvon Martin was not killed because he looked suspicious but because he jumped a guy in the dark, was astride him raining blows down on him. The court testimony estimated that Martin had hit Zimmerman forty times in the head and shoulders before Zimmerman shot him in self defense. Black people seem to believe Martin was shot down like a deer for no reason. It is one of the many racist lies black people tell themselves and others. Had Martin not tried to beat Zimmerman to death, had he just gone home and done his dope, he’d be alive today. The way you can avoid Martin’s fate is to not jump people in the dark and not try to beat them to death. It’s that simple.

About 235 black men are shot dead every year by the cops. Seventy percent of them were shot after they opened fire on the cops, very often from ambush. Most of the other thirty percent attacked the cops with other weapons, like cars. If a black man tries to ram a cop and gets shot for his trouble, that’s counted as a cop shooting of an unarmed black man. Black criminals also attack cops with street debris, clubs, edged weapons, the cops own equipment, or fists and feet. Perhaps thirty of those black men died because of bad shootings by cops.

By contrast, about 2500 black men are murdered by other black men. That’s more than ten times the number shot dead by cops. That’s more than eighty times the number of wrongful shootings by cops. The greatest threat of murder for black people comes from other black people.

The reason why black men are viewed badly is that they are ten times more likely to kill people than everyone else. Even black boys are ten times more likely to kill their classmates than every other race. Ask a black cab driver if he wants to pick up a black man and drive them to the ghetto. He’ll tell you no, because he does not want to be robbed nor shot any more than white cab drivers do.

Black men are 6% of the US population, yet they perpetrate 51% of the homicides and 60% of the robberies. When you commit a disproportionate amount of crime, people avoid you. The way for black men to gain the respect of Americans is to respect them by not victimizing them with crimes.

Black women may well suffer sexual assault more than white women but it is not white men doing it. The FBI lists the proportion of white on black rape as 0%, which means less than ten instances in the nation. Most black rape victims were raped by black men. You are falsely inferring that white men are raping black women en masse. How do you defend this dishonest claim?

Your claim that you can’t belong in a middle class neighborhood safely is nonsense. There are millions of middle class blacks living in middle class neighborhoods. If you graduate with a marketable degree, you will, too. You might consider that nearly all the black people who suffer violence are criminals doing crimes. Don’t do crime and you’ll be fine, just like hundreds of millions of other middle class people.

Black people have been free since 1865. That’s 155 years, not 52 years, as you crazily claim. Black people are not treated like slaves. You are in college. Slaves did not go to college. They were forbidden to even learn to read and write. You can not be bought and sold. Ask around. It’s true. There is no slave market in Campus Town. The only place black people remain slaves today is in Africa.

You can be anything you want in America. You can live a nice middle class life like so many black people do. You can own a business. You can be a billionaire like Oprah or a dozen other black billionaires. You can be a general or senator. You can be president.

Or you can be a loser who convinces herself that she can’t possibly succeed in a fantasy world where klansmen lurk behind every bush. That way, you’re not responsible for screwing up your life.

J. T.

This opinion article is just trying to produce fear in other black women, which only creates a dividing line between them and the community.

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