Dear Black Men*, *(cisgender and straight)
While you’re busy not fighting for us,
Remember that you’re killing us too.
… We ain’t fighting for y’all no more until you stop killing us and until you start centering the violence, trauma, and pain we suffer by antiblack misogynistic violence. This is a new Black future.” — Ashleigh Shackelford
A few days ago activist Ashleigh Shackelford publicly held black men accountable for their lack of support during the more recent killings of black women. The black male response to the police killing of Korryn Gaines on August 1 has been particularly disheartening for many black women. Gaines, killed in her home during a standoff with police, has been dismissed by many black men as a crazy woman who deserved her end — even as questions remain about why a few ticket violations resulted in police showing up to Gaines’ door, and why — when she was detained by police in March — she was allegedly denied food and water. Adding insult to injury, Gaines allowed her partner to escape through the back with her youngest child, while she continued to face off with police. She stood by her black man to the end, only to be largely ridiculed and panned by black men in her death.
Shackelford, along with Bri Carter, Erica Michelle and Catherine Imani, hung the following sign over a local highway, and Shackelford posted an extended letter to Facebook.
These above words, though quoted from Shackelford and her friends, very much echo the feelings of many black women lately. When a black man is unjustly brutalized by police or killed, we step into the front lines of protests and create #protectOurMen and #blackboysmatter hashtags on social media to show that our black men’s and black boy’s lives matter. However, when a black woman or girl suffers rape or murder, there is largely silence — sometimes even justification for the injustice — from our men. This is all with the exception a few (literally, a few) male voices that do speak up in our defense.
You don’t shut sh*& down for us when we’re murdered by the police, by this system, or by our community. — Ashleigh Shackelford
According to a Violence Policy Center (VPC) analysis released in 2012, black women have been murdered by men at an alarming rate in this country. In 2010, the murder rate of black women was nearly 2.5 times higher than that of white women. Additionally, the most common weapon used to commit these homicides was a gun. In the same survey, 94% of murdered black women knew their male killers.
The biggest threat to black women and femmes safety is not just white and non-Black people, it’s you.
We are the revolution.
And you can’t silence us anymore.
This is just the beginning. This will no longer be a conversation we “keep in the house” because you can’t be trusted to hear us, protect us, humanize us, or love us.