#Sayhername: Remembering Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Women Victims

A mural depicting George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor created by artist Leslie Barlow in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

A mural depicting George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor created by artist Leslie Barlow in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

How can police officers dressed in plainclothes enter a woman’s home in the middle of the night without any authorized warrant and shoot her multiple times while sleeping? What kind of “free” society allows any of their citizens to experience an inhumane death without legal justice?  This is not an episode from a fictitious TV show, but a real unsettling herstory. This woman is Breonna Taylor.  Taylor was an essential worker. She is human. She needs justice now.

There’s more.

How can a traffic stop ultimately end in violence and death in jail? This woman is Sandra Bland. Bland was on her way to a new job. She is human. She needs justice now.

​When I think about these Black women who have received national attention, I also think deeply about those who haven’t received any. Who are these mothers, daughters, sisters that we don’t know? Where are their stories? 

No matter what year we are in, one thing that remains perpetual in American society is the lack of full justice for the wrongful, heinous acts committed against Black women who are minding their own business.  Yes, minding our own business. These inexcusable behaviors and iniquities highlight how Black women are honestly viewed in our communities, how they are (mis)represented and how they are (mis)understood. More so, dominant history, literature, TV, movies, the media, and laws continue to disseminate information we do not matter enough. With the assertion of the Black Lives Matter movement, our humanity has been made controversial. It is this powerful contention that gives way for our unwanted solicited demise.


When the perpetrators are white and a crime is committed against a black body, we agonize and most alarmingly, sympathize over his/her actions. The whiteness is seen as innocent no matter how heinous the crime was. For example, when black women are raped, we are victimized and stereotyped, and it takes such sluggish justice to be served (if it is at all). The brutal rape of Recy Taylor (documentary out on Hulu) and Rosa Parks (who fought against the sexual assaults of Black women) are clear examples of that.  No arrests were made. The perpetrators were let back into society. Umm (insert every meme with a question mark please)…and yet we cannot seem to let those with minor drug possessions back into society?  Are we blind to these contradictions or is this the kind of hypocrisy that I’m wrapping my brain around really marks Americanism? 

It’s nearly impossible for Black women to live if the same historic policing methods, rhetoric, judicial procedures, and law enforcement are not designed to protect her. Her – a beautiful, eloquent creation; God’s masterpiece. This social protection inequality cannot be the norm.

The “not surprised” attitude shows that if the victim is a white woman, law enforcement is quick to move.  And today white women know this via the “Karens” that have been popularized on social media and the all too infamous Central Park Five. I mean these were teenage boys that had full lives ahead of them. Yet the justice system that we are supposed to trust couldn’t or refused to see that. Also, if a perpetuator is a white man and he commits a mass shooting, we somehow manage to get this perpetuator to the courts alive.  I mean how is that possible? Cannot the same tactics be used for a person of color? Accountability should be a standard and not an understatement for every person behind a badge, a pledge or a mission statement. 

The damaging effects are real and long-lasting, and it is a red flag that our judicial system made up of people in power who are not reading the bible they place their hands on (you might as well), are not held accountable. They need to think about what it means to legalize the disenfranchisement of following generations with that gavel. I mean can you imagine the ramifications this does to the generations of young people that grow up digitally watching our judicial system on repeat: protect some and not all? Are we thinking about what kind of future we want to be known and remembered for? 

Citizens, the gaze is on us. 

I showcase a historical black and white dichotomy because our criminal justice society has been conditioned to see whiteness in its many cultural forms as innately innocent and privileged for way too long.  Of course there are other people of color who make up this conversation and have yet to see an exoneration for a crime they did not commit or justice for a crime committed against them. And of course there are wonderful white allies who work tirelessly to advocate, protest, and use their platform to create a more just world. But, we still need more dismantling.  


First, the Judge that issued this “no-knock warrant” and all of the Louisville Officers responsible for Breonna Taylor’s death need to face justice in the highest court. If not, who is policing the police?  We cannot let this stand. Sign Breonna Taylor petitions that demand justice for her and protect black women. I hope the good people of America will do the right thing before this year is over. 

Second, we continue to educate ourselves, our families, peers, and communities. We harness individual and community power to remove policies and people who do not stand for the humanity of all citizens. We exercise tremendous compassion for Black women. A dear friend sent me a photo that read “black women are a love language.” And yes we absolutely are! We need to pray and understand how to love black women because trust me, as a black woman who already loves fiercely, fearlessly, and fully to all people, you will too get that in return. 

I believe we will overcome and change the narrative of how we treat Black women in America. After all Black women are absolutely amazing in every sector. I mean Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, Diana Ross, The Clark Sisters, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Michelle Alexander, Beverly Daniel Tatum, Beyonce, Rihanna, India.Arie, Mary J. Blige, Ciara, Cholle x Halle, Shirley Chisholm, Ayanna Pressely, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Beverly Bonds, Angela Bassett, Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji, Queen Latifah, Erika Alexander, Jada Pinkett Smith, Madam C.J. Walker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Condoleezza Rice, Henrietta Lacks, Mae Jemison, Stephanie Wilson, Bessie Coleman, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Ruby Bridges, Claudette Colvin, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and the list goes on and on and on.

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