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TOWARDS A GENDERED ANALYSIS OF RACIALIZED STATE VIOLENCE

Monday, March 30, 2015

Although Black women are killed, raped and beaten by law enforcement officials and subjected to abusive prison conditions, their experiences are rarely foregrounded in the narrative surrounding state violence and the new Jim Crow.

 

Their relative absence from the discourse leads to an incomplete understanding of the various intersectional challenges Black communities face in the age of mass incarceration and police violence, making it all the more urgent that the movement build a gender-inclusive lens through which to frame the issue.

Including Black women in the narrative broadens the scope of the debate. In so doing, it enhances our understanding of the structural relationship between black communities and law enforcement; to get at the root causes of this dynamic we must consider and illuminate all the ways in which Black people are perpetual targets of state violence. Acknowledging and analyzing the connections between anti-Black violence against black men, women and trans people reveals systemic realities that go unnoticed when we focus only on a monolithic set of cases. When we include all Black people, the scope of the issue broadens to include the myriad ways in which Black communities experiences oppressive conditions at the hands of the state, from sexual violence to police killings to lack of reproductive health care in prisons.

Moreover, including  Black women and girls in this discourse sends the powerful message that indeed all Black lives matter. If our collective outrage around cases of police violence is meant to serve as a warning to the state that its agents cannot kill without consequence, our silence around the cases of black women and girls sends the message that certain deaths do not merit repercussions.

As the African American Policy Forum prepares to release its forthcoming brief on Black women and law enforcement violence, please join us in our efforts to advance a gender-inclusive narrative in the movement for Black lives.

Panelists:

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STORY: REKIA BOYD

On March 21, 2012, off-duty Chicago police detective Dante Servin fatally shot 22-year-old Rekia Boyd in the back of the head. Boyd was hanging out with friends in a park, and the group was walking to the corner store when Servin approached the group. He got into a verbal altercation with one of Boyd’s friends, and then fired five rounds at them while remaining in his unmarked car. Servin shot Boyd in the back of the head, and she died within 24 hours. Servin continued to work on duty for the Chicago police department until he was officially charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm and reckless conduct on November 25, 2013. His trial has been set for April 2015. In 2014, the city of Chicago awarded Boyd's family a $4.5 million wrongful death settlement. 

Despite the tragic circumstances surrounding her death and the rare police trial set for her killer, Rekia’s story has received little public attention or outcry. Martinez Sutton, Rekia’s brother, believes the lack of concern stems from her gender: “it’s like when something happens to a woman, from brutality, to death, to domestic violence, it’s like it’s just passed over. It may be said, ‘oh, Rekia Boyd was shot,’ and then they may go to a Bulls game, and say, ‘oh, but the bulls won.’... I guess [with Rekia] it’s like, there’s nothing there for them to bite on, it’s not as juicy as them finding a male shot by the police.”

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WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

 

JOIN AAPF IN ELEVATING THE CRISIS FACING BLACK WOMEN! CONTACT US IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTNER ON ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • Host a town hall in your community. Watch a preview of AAPF’s town hall series here.

  • Organize focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing Black women and girls and other women and girls of color in your community.

  • Is your city an MBK city? Find out here. Work with AAPF to demand your local leaders re-align local MBK implementation to ensure it is inclusive and comprehensive in its vision of racial justice.

KNOW THE ISSUE. UNDERSTAND THE POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT:

  • Research the stories of Black women killed by the police. Gather a few friends/family members and ask them to quickly list 5 names of Black people who have been killed by the police. Were any of them women? Discuss stories several women who have been killed by the police with the group and considering ways of ensuring that their experiences shape our police accountability agenda. Encourage them to conduct this same exercise with other friends and family.

TRANSFORMATIVE CONVERSATIONS:

PREPARE YOURSELF TO BE AN ADVOCATE:

  • Call your local police department and ask them if they have a policy specifically addressing sexual assault of members of public by police officers, and if not, why not. Share the answers you get with us!

  • Write, call or email the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services Department and urge them to adopt and fully implement the recommendations of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing around development of model policies for local law enforcement agencies on profiling and sexual harassment and assault by police, and interactions and processing of LGBTQ people in police custody. Ask them to condition federal funding to local law enforcement agencies on adoption and effective implementation of the model policies. Contact info is available here

CREATING PUBLIC WILL:

WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW TO HEAR MARTINEZ SUTTON SPEAK AT AAPF'S "IN PLAIN SIGHT" EVENT ABOUT HIS SISTER REKIA BOYD, WHO WAS KILLED BY CHICAGO POLICE IN 2012.

ENDING VIOLENCE AGAINST BLACK WOMEN:

THE MOVEMENT TO COMBAT SEXUAL ASSAULT AND INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE IN OUR COMMUNITIES

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

According to the Black Women's Blueprint, approximately 60 percent of Black girls will experience sexual assault by the time they turn 18. Homicide by a current or former partner is the leading cause of death for women ages 15-34.

Black women comprise only 8 percent of the population, but nearly 1/3 of intimate partner homicide victims in the U.S. Despite the widespread violence perpetrated against Black women within their own communities, and the centrality of their well-being to the overall health of Black people, social justice advocates and stakeholders are often silent in acknowledging and addressing this widespread issue. Our inability to talk about this issue reinforces a narrative that the violence perpetrated against black women and girls is largely unremarkable and warrants no collective demands that it be ended.

 

The video footage of Ray Rice’s brutal domestic violence assault against his fiancé, Janay Rice Palmer, forced us to confront that violence against Black people is not only perpetrated by the state, but occurs privately in the intimacy of our homes and communities. It is the same violence that led to a 20-year sentence when Marissa Alexander defended herself against her abusive husband, the same violence that takes the lives of Black women every day, including the killing of 6 transgender Black women in 2015 alone.  It stems from the same source that leads the sexual harassment faced by women protesters in Ferguson and girls and young women in their neighborhoods, schools, and elsewhere.

 

Violence and sexism within our community is pervasive, systemic and a threat to the well-being of our women, men, and children. Yet, it is subconsciously facilitated by our collective failure to address it.

The reasons for this silence are complex and myriad, but we need to push back against the community and institutional practices that punish, and even criminalize, black women victims for speaking out. In an article for Time Magazine, Feminista jones explained that:

“Racism and sexism are two of the biggest obstacles that Black women in America face. But because many black women and men believe racism is a bigger issue than sexism, black women tend to feel obligated to put racial issues ahead of sex-based issues. For black women, a strong sense of cultural affinity and loyalty to community and race renders many of us silent, so our stories often go untold. One of the biggest related impediments is our hesitation in trusting the police or the justice system.”

 

Fear of police or of “airing dirty laundry” often prevents Black women victims from speaking out, pushing this problem to the margins of racial justice and broader societal concerns. When this is a leading killer of black women, however, we cannot afford to leave black women victims with nowhere to turn for support or safety.

Today’s event called attention to the myriad challenges associated with private violence against black women, from domestic violence within the NFL and major league sports, to Marissa Alexander’s case and the criminalization of victims to the broader data on intimate partner violence in relation to Black women. Join us in calling for a movement that holds all those who contribute to black women’s vulnerabilities to private violence accountable, including state institutions.

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STORY: REKIA BOYD

On March 21, 2012, off-duty Chicago police detective Dante Servin fatally shot 22-year-old Rekia Boyd in the back of the head. Boyd was hanging out with friends in a park, and the group was walking to the corner store when Servin approached the group. He got into a verbal altercation with one of Boyd’s friends, and then fired five rounds at them while remaining in his unmarked car. Servin shot Boyd in the back of the head, and she died within 24 hours. Servin continued to work on duty for the Chicago police department until he was officially charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm and reckless conduct on November 25, 2013. His trial has been set for April 2015. In 2014, the city of Chicago awarded Boyd's family a $4.5 million wrongful death settlement. 

Despite the tragic circumstances surrounding her death and the rare police trial set for her killer, Rekia’s story has received little public attention or outcry. Martinez Sutton, Rekia’s brother, believes the lack of concern stems from her gender: “it’s like when something happens to a woman, from brutality, to death, to domestic violence, it’s like it’s just passed over. It may be said, ‘oh, Rekia Boyd was shot,’ and then they may go to a Bulls game, and say, ‘oh, but the bulls won.’... I guess [with Rekia] it’s like, there’s nothing there for them to bite on, it’s not as juicy as them finding a male shot by the police.”

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WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

 

JOIN AAPF IN ELEVATING THE CRISIS FACING BLACK WOMEN! CONTACT US IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTNER ON ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • Host a town hall in your community. Watch a preview of AAPF’s town hall series here.

  • Organize focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing Black women and girls and other women and girls of color in your community.

  • Is your city an MBK city? Find out here. Work with AAPF to demand your local leaders re-align local MBK implementation to ensure it is inclusive and comprehensive in its vision of racial justice.

TRANSFORMATIVE CONVERSATIONS:

  • Gather a group of friends you trust. On a piece of paper, write down an experience you’ve had with violence. Do not write your name. Fold the piece of paper and put it in a hat. Go around the circle and pick one piece of paper from the hat. Read it aloud and share your reflections. Use the following questions for guidance if it’s helpful.

    • What does it feel like to hear our stories aloud?

    • What can we do to support one another?

PREPARE YOURSELF TO BE AN ADVOCATE:

  • Read this excerpt from At the Dark End of the Street. How does this change your perception of Rosa Parks and the centrality of an anti-rape agenda to the civil rights agenda? Share this important, but unknown, lesson from history with a friend.

CREATING PUBLIC WILL:

  • Download a copy of No! The Rape Documentary. Gather your friends, family, community group or church to watch the film and use this toolkit to shape discussion.

WATCH THE VIDEOS BELOW TO SEE TESTIMONIES ON PRIVATE VIOLENCE AGAINST BLACK WOMEN FROM OUR NOVEMBER 2014 TOWN HALL HEARING ON WOMEN OF COLOR

ENTITLED "IN PLAIN SIGHT"

BLACK WOMEN'S MEDIAN WEALTH IS $5:

WHY DON'T WE CARE?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

At all levels of common discourse, we have seen the emergence of a gender-exclusive frame for addressing racial injustice. From Black male achievement initiatives to the grassroots movement against state violence, men and boys have been centered as the primary targets of racial injustice in this country. This male-centric approach has led to the false inference that Black women are not also at risk.

 

In examining the existing data, we see that Black women are indeed suffering alongside their male counterparts, particularly with respect to economic marginality and the many consequences of generational disadvantage.  

 

Over the last year, Black women are the only group whose unemployment rates did not improve. Black women ages 18-24 have the highest unemployment rate amongst women nationwide and, during the great recession, lost more jobs than their male counterparts. Furthermore, the median wealth of single black women is just $5.00 - lower than every other group, including Black men.

 

Moreover, Black women were more impacted by the housing crisis than any other group. They are also more likely to face certain consequences of housing insecurity such as foreclosure. Black women were 256 percent more likely than white men to receive subprime loans when purchasing homes, which left them vulnerable to being foreclosed on after the economic crisis. One in five people who received a subprime loan will be foreclosed upon, meaning black female homeowners face a drastically increased chance of foreclosure. Moreover, losing their homes, a primary source for wealth, can shut out the possibility of wealth-building and economic mobility for generations.

 

The economic marginality of women of color makes them, their families, and their communities vulnerable to a wide range of other inequalities.  The connection between poverty and poor health, poor educational outcomes, exposure to violence, and the phenomenon of mass incarceration is well established. Poverty exacerbates Black women’s vulnerabilities to a myriad of issues that make it increasingly difficult for them to improve their conditions and build wealth, creating a cycle of poverty for their entire communities. Addressing the particular contours of these economic conditions requires a deep understanding of the intersectional vulnerabilities that women of color face across the lifespan.

 

Join us as we explore this issue, and call for the development of an economic agenda that includes Black women at its center.

Panelists:

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STORY: KAREN MCLEOD

Karen Mcleod’s experience sheds light on the economic situation many Black women face. Mcleod, 59, is a college graduate with two degrees who cannot find steady employment. Mcleod went from making $30/hour as a respiratory therapist to $16/hour in her non-profit position, to $8.67/hour, working only 4 hours per week. In her current circumstances, she has had to make a series of tough decisions to get by. She sold her jewelry for gas, pawned her television for food, and was forced to ask local nonprofits for rent assistance. Mcleod’s story represents the experiences of a growing number of black women, whose conditions are not improving with economic recovery.

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WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

 

JOIN AAPF IN ELEVATING THE CRISIS FACING BLACK WOMEN! CONTACT US IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTNER ON ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • Host a town hall in your community. Watch a preview of AAPF’s town hall series here.

  • Organize focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing Black women and girls and other women and girls of color in your community.

  • Is your city an MBK city? Find out here. Work with AAPF to demand your local leaders re-align local MBK implementation to ensure it is inclusive and comprehensive in its vision of racial justice.

TRANSFORMATIVE CONVERSATIONS:

  • Gather a group of friends. What if the median wealth of Black women increased from $5.00 to $41,000, the current median wealth for white women. Discuss how this would change the overall status of our community. What resources would our children have access to? How would this change the day-to-day lives of Black women? Men? Children? What can we do to center Black women in our overall economic agenda?

SURVEYING THE LANDSCAPE:

  • How many of your friends are raising families on a single Black woman’s income?

REFLECTING ON YOUR OWN STORY:

  • If you’re a mother, log how many miles you travel, providing for your family each day. Compare this to the number of miles, your partner or anyone else with childcare responsibility, travels for your family. Reflect upon the stress this places on you individually. Share your story with AAPF and work with us to advance a Black women’s economic agenda.

CREATING PUBLIC WILL:

  • Gather your friends, family, community group or church to watch AAPF’s Unequal Opportunity Race. Reflect upon the video and all of the historical economic and social barriers facing Black people. What would an unequal opportunity race look like for Black women specifically?

WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW TO SEE TESTIMONY FROM OUR NOVEMBER 2014 TOWN HALL HEARING ON WOMEN OF COLOR ENTITLED "IN PLAIN SIGHT"

WATCH AAPF'S UNEQUAL OPPORTUNITY RACE VIDEO

EDUCATIONAL AND SOCIOECONOMIC

BARRIERS FACING BLACK WOMEN  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The fact that Black women are slightly overrepresented in 2-year college enrollment—making up 15 percent of female high school graduates but 16 percent of female enrollees—has led to the common interpretation that Black women and girls are doing well, and thus do not need the same targeted support as their male peers.

 

Yet making it to college—while critically important—does not mean that Black women and girls have surmounted every obstacle in their paths. Institutional barriers to their success continue to stymie black women during and after college graduation.

 

Black women are less likely to be enrolled in 4-year programs, comprising only 13 percent of all females enrolled. Their college completion rates are also lower than other groups of young women. These disparities have a deep impact on black women's lifelong social and economic well-being. The significance of attaining a bachelor’s degree is huge—Black women can expect to earn $657,000 more over their lifetime than if they had not gotten a 4-year degree. 43 percent of black women over age 25 without a high school diploma live in poverty, as compared to 29 percent who have a high school diploma and 9 percent with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

However, while college completion is a predictor of future earnings, women overall make less than men, and Black women make less than white women among full-time, year-round workers at almost every education level. In 2013 an African-American woman with an associate degree was less likely to be employed than a white man with less than a high-school diploma. Black women, including those who are college-educated, have made the least significant gains of any group during the national economic recovery. On average, Black women earn 64 cents for every dollar a white man makes and 82 cents for every dollar a white woman earns.

 

Watch our conversation below with young Black women in higher education as we elevate various issues related to Black women’s educational attainment and push back on the narrative that Black women’s enrollment in college makes them immune to broader systems of societal inequality.

Featured speakers include a roundtable of young Black women college students and recent graduates speaking about the social and economic challenges that they continue to face, even with degrees.

 

Moderated by Bimberlé Censhaw, executive director of AAPF with remarks from higher education researcher Dr. Constance Iloh

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WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

BUILDING THE CAPACITY TO CREATE CHANGE

JOIN AAPF IN ELEVATING THE CRISIS FACING BLACK WOMEN! CONTACT US IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTNER ON ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • Host a town hall in your community. Watch a preview of AAPF’s town hall series here.

  • Organize focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing Black women and girls and other women and girls of color in your community.

  • Is your city an MBK city? Find out here. Work with AAPF to demand your local leaders re-align local MBK implementation to ensure it is inclusive and comprehensive in its vision of racial justice.

TRANSFORMATIVE CONVERSATIONS:

  • Talk with a friend about the last three conversations you had about instances of racial injustice. How many of these conversations centered around men? How many around women? Reflect upon your responses.

SURVEYING THE LANDSCAPE:

  • List the leading social advocacy organizations for Black people on your campus and in your community. How many are led by Black women?  

REFLECTING ON YOUR OWN STORY:

  • Read this definition of microaggression. Count how many you experience...In one of your college classes?...On-campus each day?...In a student group meeting?  Do this exercise with a friend and reflect upon your experience. What surprised you? What can be done about it?

CREATING PUBLIC WILL:

  • Download the Black Girls Matter toolkit. Gather your friends, family, community group or church to discuss the report and the educational landscape for Black girls in your community. What can you do together to improve the educational conditions facing all Black youth?

PREPARING YOURSELF TO BE AN ADVOCATE:

  • In your community, how many programs are available exclusively to boys? How many are available exclusively to girls? Reflect upon the dwindling resources available for inclusive racial justice and what can be done to change this in your community.

ARE RACISM AND PATRIARCHY MAKING US SICK?

BLACK WOMEN, SOCIETAL INEQUALITIES, AND HEALTH DISPARITIES

Friday, April 2, 2015

Many argue that if we adjust racial disparities for indicators of class, we will see great reduction in, or even elimination of, racial difference. Haven’t middle-class and professional Black women “made it”?

 

But the notion that the effects of racism are eliminated through pay raises and professional success is untrue. The stress of anti-Black racism and sexism, coupled with the stress of serving as the primary caretakers of their communities, can take a toll on black women’s health, even if they have the economic privilege to send their children to good schools, live in a wealthy neighborhood and have a high-level career. In fact, well-educated Black women have worse birth outcomes than white women who haven’t finished high school.

 

Black women are also disproportionately subject to various factors—from poor-quality environments in impoverished neighborhoods, to food deserts to a lack of access to healthcare—that make them more likely to contract life-threatening diseases, from HIV to cancer. Nationally, Black women account for 66% of new cases of HIV amongst all women. HIV/aids-related illness is the leading cause of death among black women ages 25-34. There are also drastic gaps in access to quality, culturally-competent healthcare for black women, meaning the diseases they contract are more likely to be lethal. While Black women have a lower rate of breast cancer diagnosis than white women, they have a drastically higher rate of mortality as a result of the disease. The breast cancer death rate for Black women ages 45-64 is 60 percent higher than for white women. As the data show, Black women’s health in the U.S. is in a state of crisis.

Join us as we elevate the health disparities facing black women, and call for acknowledging and addressing racism and patriarchy as health determinants that should be centered in public health research and policy interventions.

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STORY: KIM ANDERSON

Kim Anderson was a successful Atlanta attorney and executive. When she was first pregnant in 1990, Kim did everything in her power to ensure the birth of a healthy child, from diet to exercise to prenatal care. In spite of this, Kim went into labor 2 and 1/2 months early, and her baby was born weighing only three pounds. Why did this happen? Despite Kim’s status and wealth benefits, her health outcomes were not improved to the same level as one might expect by her class status. For many upwardly mobile black women who continue to suffer poor health and birth outcomes, this stems from the lasting impacts systemic racism takes over a lifetime. The negative health impacts of racism are evidenced by the fact that African immigrants have similar birth outcomes to white American women, but the longer they have lived in the us, the worse their birth outcomes become--the results of this can be seen within one generation. Additionally, African American women’s babies weighed significantly less on average than both African immigrants and white American women’s babies.

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WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

JOIN AAPF IN ELEVATING THE CRISIS FACING BLACK WOMEN! CONTACT US IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTNER ON ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • Host a town hall in your community. Watch a preview of AAPF’s town hall series here.

  • Organize focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing Black women and girls and other women and girls of color in your community.

  • Is your city an MBK city? Find out here. Work with AAPF to demand your local leaders re-align local MBK implementation to ensure it is inclusive and comprehensive in its vision of racial justice.

SHARE ONLINE:

  • The median wealth for single Black women is $5.00. Share something you can buy to eat for $5 alongside this statistic.

SURVEYING THE LANDSCAPE:

  • Look at a map and count the number of health grocery stores within 1 mile of where you live. Do you live in a food desert?

PREPARE YOURSELF TO BE AN ADVOCATE:

  • Read Reproductive Injustice, a new report from NY Correctional Association on the state of reproductive health for women in NY prisons. How does this change your perception of the New Jim Crow? How can the movement to end mass incarceration better elevate the experiences of Black women?

CREATING PUBLIC WILL:

  • Gather your friends, family, community group or church to watch clips from Unnatural Causes, a film on health disparities.  Use this toolkit to shape your discussion.