This Damning Report Reveals the Terrible Truth About Police Brutality Against Black Women
A new report calls for a gender-inclusive approach ensuring all black lives — not just those of black men — are considered as social and policy discussions continue about anti-black violence from law enforcement.
The African American Policy Forum's study Say Her Name, released Thursday on National Day of Action for Black Women and Girls, underscores the intensely different ways black women are routinely subjected to police brutality.
As the authors of this report say, black women's lives matter, even if their stories don't always dominate mainstream news coverage or large-scale marches. "The failure to highlight and demand accountability for the countless black women killed by police over the past two decades ... leaves black women unnamed and thus under-protected in the face of their continued vulnerability to racialized police violence," the authors write.
What the report shows. While black men are disproportionately affected by police brutality, the exclusive focus on their stories in most mainstream news coverage and activism has raised concerns that the many harrowing experiences of black women may be ignored when it comes to solving this rampant problem.
The report details some of the known instances in which black women have been killed or assaulted by police officers, highlighting that the issue isn't limited to driving or walking while black, as has been the consistent narrative. As AAPF executive director and report co-author Kimberlé Crenshaw previously told Mic, there's a "far broader template of being endangered while black that includes black women.
Some of the gender-specific instances cited by the report include the use of excessive force against mothers and their children, gender and sexuality policing of queer, trans and gender nonconforming black women, criminalizing survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault committed by police officers. That's in addition to already known issues such as death while in custody and killings as "collateral damage."
So what can be done? Among many recommendations for both community discussions and policy alternatives, the report's authors call for the passage of the End Racial Profiling Act of 2015, which the report notes would ban racial profiling in gender and sexuality-inclusive ways. The authors also call for a "zero tolerance" policy for sexual harassment and assault by police officers, as well as use-of-force policies that clearly prohibit the use of excessive force on pregnant women or children.
"No analysis of state violence against black bodies can be complete without including all black bodies within its frame," the report's authors wrote. "Until we say the names and tell the stories of the entire black community, we cannot truly claim to fight for all black lives."