Violence Ignored: Black Women’s Struggles in America


Sophia Randall

Black Lives Matter is a social movement founded in 2013 in order to protest police brutality and other forms of racial discrimination.

Black Lives Matter is a social movement that was founded in 2013 to protest against police brutality. During 2020, Black Lives Matter has had to, unfortunately, protest many senseless murders at the hands of the police, including the death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was killed in a police raid by three Louisville police officers in the home that she shared with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. The police did not identify themselves as they barged into Taylor’s home, which caused the conflict to escalate. 

Taylor was an emergency room technician working at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when she was killed on March 13th, 2020. The police officers responsible for her death were acquitted by a grand jury. Prior to the acquittal, the statement, “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor,” was frequently circulated on the social media pages of self-proclaimed allies and activists. However, many Black women claim that this circulation has done more harm than good and was a form of performative activism that commodified Taylor’s death.

Shirts with the phrase were sold by companies, and the phrase started to become an Instagram caption for celebrities, such as Lili Reinhart, an actress, who used a form of the phrase to caption a picture of her at the beach. Writing about the incident, Zeba Blay, a writer for the Huffington Post wrote, “The thing is, the post didn’t just ‘come off’ as insensitive. It was insensitive, and part of anti-racism work is understanding that good intentions will not solve the problem of racism. Neither will blindly following a trendy call for justice without really considering the message we’re trying to get across ― its content and its form.” Phrases like, “Say Her Name” and “Protect Black Women,” may seem to be a form of alliance with the cause, but when all is said and done, these phrases are  meaningless without any action or direct advocacy to support them.

A day after the acquittal of Taylor’s murderers, on September 25th, 2020, Tory Lanez, a rapper, released his album, ‘Daystar,’ with the purpose of rebutting the allegations made by Megan Thee Stallion, another well-known rapper, that he had shot her. Prior to the release, Megan received online harassment from the public for accusing Lanez of shooting her. After the accusation,  memes erupted across all social media platforms. 50 Cent, another rapper, shared two memes mocking the shooting and Megan’s trauma, on his Instagram account with over twenty-six million followers. He deleted the memes and issued an apology stating that he shared the memes because he did not believe the incident was real, despite footage that had been released showing Megan exiting the car that the assault had taken place in, with a bloodied foot.

In America, there seems to be an issue with believing Black Women. But, this is far from a new issue.

During slavery, Black women were subjected to extensive and abusive medical trials because White doctors had come to a consensus that Black women did not feel pain. Such doctors include James Marion Sims, who is credited as being the father of gynecology. Sims performed many experiments on Black women without giving them any form of pain medication despite his excruciating and invasive procedures.

Today, the consensus still influences how Black women are treated in hospitals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also known as the CDC, Black women are three times more likely to die while giving birth than Caucasian women. 

However, this consensus affects more than just how Black women are treated in hospitals. The idea that Black women are invincible to pain has left them more unprotected and vulnerable to violence. Malcolm X, a prominent civil rights activist said, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”

This quote can be applied to the outcomes of the death of Breonna Taylor and the harassment of Megan Thee Stallion. The ridicule and commodification surrounding a Black women’s pain have deep roots in slavery that have been proven difficult to uproot in America.

In America, there seems to be an issue with believing Black Women. But, this is far from a new issue.