A hashtag that puts the spotlight on black female victims of police brutality is trending on Twitter, especially after Kamala Harris came out with a tweet on Thursday. The US senator pointed out that the officers who murdered Breonna Taylor, a woman of colour, three months ago have still not been charged. Her tweet comes amidst the protests that have gripped the US in response to George Floyd’s killing. The Twitterati is now trending #SayHerName on Taylor’s birthday, to ensure that racism faced by African American women is not left out of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The officers who murdered Breonna Taylor nearly three months ago still have not been charged. We can’t forget about Black women in our quest for justice. – Kamala Harris

Erasure of Black Women from #BlackLivesMatter

The past few weeks saw the names of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown and Eric Garner becoming viral hashtags, refreshing the public memory on most recent cases of racial profiling by the US police force. But Harris in her tweet pointed out the gender disparity of such a trend. What about the unarmed black women who were victims of police brutality?

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Harris is not the first woman to point out the disparity in the Black Lives Matter movement.  Dr. Bernice King, the youngest child of renowned civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. also tweeted, “Today is #BreonnaTaylor’s birthday. #SayHerName. Think of and pray for those closest to her. Dedicate time to work for #JusticeforBreonnaTaylor. Here’s how. RT. Share.” Actor and activist Jameela Jamil also raised questions on the status of investigation in the death of Breonna Taylor.

“Ah immediate internal affairs investigation when it’s a white man who is still alive. Good to know they are capable of immediate investigation. How we doing on #BreonnaTaylor investigation? Any arrests or nah?” wrote Jamil.

Who is Breonna Taylor?

Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old emergency medical technician from Kentucky. On 13 March 2020, two plainclothes detectives entered her apartment while serving a no-knock search warrant. When Taylor’s boyfriend opened fire at them, they retaliated. She was reportedly shot eight times and died. #SayHerName is a social movement that was started in 2015 to bring justice to challenge the public perception that victims of police brutality are predominantly black males.

What You Should Know:

  • #SayHerName has been trending on Twitter, to divert attention towards female victims of racism and police brutality.
  • Today is the birth anniversary of Breonna Taylor who died after being shot eight times by the police in March.
  • Twitteratti is commemorating Taylor’s birth anniversary by putting the focus on widespread police brutality faced by unarmed clack women.
  • #SayHerName challenges the perception that victims of police brutality are predominantly black males.

Such cases are not new. Atatiana Jefferson, Charleena Chavon Lyles, Korryn Gaines, Alexia Christian, Mya Hall, Reika Boyd are but a few amongst the countless black women who were killed by police officers around the country over the course of last five years. None of these names might ring a bell. They have also been widely left out from the Black Lives Matter movement that started after the death of George Floyd.

#SayHerName is a social movement that started out to bring justice to Taylor andf to challenge the public perception that victims of police brutality are predominantly black males.

Gendered Politics of Protest

The widespread murder, brutality, and sexual assault against unarmed Black women at the hands of white male officers is often invisible to the public eye, but it happens.  The social justice scholar Monique W. Morris while discussing her new documentary Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools with Yahoo life, talks about how “protests are often in the name of men and boys, and we forget that so many girls, young women, transwomen and girls are disproportionately impacted by the same state-sanctioned violence that our men and boys are experiencing.”

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#SayHerName is one way through which Black women are constantly trying to highlight the gender-specific ways in which black women are by fatal acts of racial injustice. Today is Breonna Taylor’s birthday. The trending of #SayHerName today, out of all days, should be an ode to her. And to the countless black women lost. Black lives undoubtedly matter, and equally do Black women’s lives as well.

Dyuti Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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