The Black Women in The Shadows

When you think of the Black Lives Movement, which names come to mind? Is it George Floyd? Is it Jacob Blake? Maybe you think of Ahmaud Arbery or Breonna Taylor. Regardless of who comes to mind, you know that the Black Lives Matter movement is centered around the injustice inflicted upon the Black community.

That is what the movement should be about, but that is not the way it truly is. The unjust killing of Black men is a very important part of the Black lives matter movement, but it is not the only thing that needs to be focused on to initiate change. 

Breonna Taylor was essentially the only widely well-known Black woman representing injustice during the Black Lives Matter movement this summer.

Mural of Breonna Taylor in Annapolis, Maryland. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo.

Breonna Taylor was shot in her own home on March 13, 2020, but why did no one “say her name” for months? Why was her death not seen as an injustice within the Black community for so long? Why was her story ignored, and why is it still being ignored?

It can be said without a doubt that Black men face immense amounts of discrimination and inequality every day, but that does not mean that the discrimination and inequality that Black women face should be overlooked, locked up in a box, and the key thrown under a rug until society gets bored and a new “breaking news” headline is needed. 

 The fear within the Black community is unreal. The constant anxiety that Black people feel can only be compared to feeling as if there is a giant target. A target that remains unmoved, no matter how much one attempts to scratch or abrade. This fear is not only limited to Black men.

Black women feel the same, but it seems as though they are less vocal about their experiences. At the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, I found myself down the dark hole that is racial bias in the healthcare that is provided for Black women and other women of color versus the healthcare provided for white women. I was appalled at the large number of healthcare workers that believed that Black women experienced pain differently from other women. I was also shocked to see that a fear of doctors & healthcare workers was common amongst Black women.

The most troubling part of all of it was the fact that this wasn’t a prominent issue that was being discussed when people would talk about the Black Lives Matter movement. 

During the Black Lives Matter movement, Black women were often seen on the front lines of protests.

A Black Lives Matter protest in Liverpool, England in June 2020.

Yet, coverage of the movement was heavily centered around Black men. Everyone knew that, but that did not stop Black women from rising and backing up Black men. This should be the norm, and nothing less should be expected. The question is: “Would Black men do the same?” Do Black men extend that same allyship towards Black women? 

One well-known example would be the situation with Megan The Stallion and Tory Lanez. Tory was accused of shooting Megan, information that was only released after fans pressured Megan for weeks asking her who shot her. At first, Megan did not bring the situation to social media, but Tory did. Instead of laying low and attempting to handle the situation privately, Tory made jokes about Megan’s situation and even went as far as making a song about her. When Megan did come out with the truth, fans did not treat her as the victim in the situation.

Instead, they treated her with contempt, claiming that her coming forward was her way of “incarcerating another innocent Black man” which is what she attempted to avoid in the first place. For weeks after the incident memes and jokes were made about her by Tory’s fans. People continued to misgender her and call her a “shame to the Black community.” 

 This situation was just one example of the injustice committed against Black women being overlooked. The public may never know whether it was Megan who was in the wrong or Tory, but one thing is sure: There were too many people in the Black community who saw this as an opportunity to jump on Megan instead of hearing both sides of the story. This doesn’t go to say that Megan was completely innocent, but I think that her story should have been taken more seriously than it was. People all over the world (including Black men) are always ready to be vocal about Black issues until it has to do with the issues that Black women face. 

The injustice that a Black man faces is discrimination, while the injustice that a Black woman faces is treated as completely normal. It is sad to see Black women being overlooked, ignored, and neglected. People always say “protect Black women” yet even our own Black men can’t even seem to do so. 

I don’t say all this to say that Black men should be ignored. I also don’t say all this to say that Black men deserve any kind of injustice. I say all this to say that the activism and support we show for Black men should also be shown for Black women.

The Black Lives Matter movement should never be focused on one group within the Black community. The things I face as a Black woman may not be the same things that a Black man faces, but our experiences should never be compared, one being chosen and set on a pedestal while the other one is pushed into the shadows.

I hope that as we grow and we can learn to accentuate all the issues within our community, not just the ones that are most common or seem like they carry the most significance.

In order to initiate change, every issue of every person within the Black community must be brought to light.

Every injustice is an injustice. There is no small injustice, there is just ignorance. 

Art credits: Melissa Koby, @mkoby_ on Instagram

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