A black woman with dark skin looks at the camera. A tear drips down her cheek.

Naming Black Women and Girls and the Violence Against Them

Last week, I heard about Rae’Lynn Thomas, a Black trans woman murdered in Ohio by her mother’s ex-boyfriend, and was reminded why it’s important to #SayHerName.

As I scrolled down my timelines and feeds, I realized that only other Black women and femmes were talking about what had happened to her. When people who are not Black women and femmes continue to ignore this type of violence, they are perpetuating the notion that Black women and femmes’ safety, wellbeing, and existence isn’t valued. We must all recognize the various forms of violence and how they impact particular groups, if we want to stop it.

It’s this commitment that inspired activists to launch #SayHerName, a campaign to bring visibility to the anti-Black and state violence experienced by Black women and girls. When mainstream media doesn’t cover violence against black women and girls, it’s up to us to tell those stories and lend each other strength. In answering the call to #SayHerName, today I want to say the names of three Black women and girls who have experienced anti-Black violence and misogynoir in all its form as we fight for liberation. While not of all them have lost their lives to state violence or experienced physical violence, verbal and psychological abuse are violence and must also be included in the conversation.

Madisyn Moore – In March of this year, Madisyn, a six-year old student accused of allegedly stealing candy, “was handcuffed and left under a stairwell by the school’s boilers for more than an hour…, according to [her mother, Marlena] Wordlow.” Last week, her mother filed a lawsuit against Chicago Public Schools.

Normani Kordei – Normani, a member of Fifth Harmony, recently announced she would be leaving Twitter after a racist cyberbully attack from the fans of her fellow bandmate, Camilla Cabello. These racist posts included photos with Normani’s head photoshopped onto the bodies of lynched Black folks. Normani is not the only Black woman to experience racist online attacks as Leslie Jones and Gabrielle Douglas have also recently had anti-Black cyberbully experiences.

Rae’Lynn Thomas – Last week, Rae’Lynn was murdered by James Allen Byrd, her mother’s ex-boyfriend. Although Rae’Lynn’s mother, Renee Thomas, witnessed the attack and has made it clear it was a transphobic attack, Columbus police are not currently investigating her murder as a hate crime. She was the 19th trans person killed in the U.S. in 2016. Her death also was the second murder of Black trans woman in Ohio in a two week timeframe, with Skye Mockabee, being the other victim.

Madisyn, Normani, Rae’Lynn, we see you. We honor you. We love you. The violence we face, as Black women and girls, is often made invisible and seen as being divisive in the fight for Black liberation. However, demanding that all violence against us be taken seriously is not divisive, it’s forcing all of us to expand the conversation on what liberation truly means for each of us as Black people. We must name and hold all oppressors accountable in order to move closer to freedom.

Header image credit: Shutterstock via For Harriet

Quita Tinsley is a fat, Black, queer femme that writes, organizes, and overall is working to build sustainable change in the South. She holds a B.A. in Journalism with a minor in Sociology from Georgia State University, and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from her alma mater. She is a member on the board of directors of Access Reproductive Care – Southeast, and is a former content creator for the The Body Is Not An Apology. As a femme, feminist, and queer Black woman, it is through her lived experiences and complex identities that Quita has come to believe in the power of storytelling and the validation of lived experiences.

Quita Tinsley is a fat, Black, queer femme that writes, organizes, and overall is working to build sustainable change in the South.

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