America failed Breonna Taylor and continues to fail Black women across the country. By Dylan Lee.
3/13/2021 – Today is the one year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death. The facts are seemingly simple– a Black woman, who worked as an emergency room technician, was shot in her own home while she was asleep at nearly one in the morning during a botched raid on her apartment by the Louisville Metro Police Department.
After Breonna’s tragic death, on May 25th, 2020, a police officer kneeled on an innocent black man’s neck for seven minutes, unjustly executing him. That man was George Floyd and little did anyone know, his death would spark a worldwide revolution in the midst of a pandemic. For the first time, the world came together to protest the death of a Black man. It was a bittersweet moment.
Yet, while George Floyd’s death raised awareness of profuse antiblackness in America, Breonna Taylor’s death garnered far less attention, although the police murdered her two months earlier.
Taylor’s name has become tragically famous, being used to pass laws— like Breonna’s Law, banning no-knock warrants— and her face has been plastered on seemingly every magazine cover, newspaper article, and TV screen. Yet the one place she has never received any recognition is where it matters most— the court.
To defend the cops who shot Taylor, or to justify military occupation of a city where she was brutally murdered in her own home, is deplorable. A life was lost and the only charges against the officers were for the shots that they missed.
It’s hard not to wonder what would have happened if the officers who fired their weapons that night had not hit the neighboring apartments, but it would most likely mean that not a single officer would be charged at all.
On September 23rd, 2020, a grand jury decided to indict only one out of the three officers involved in endangering Breonna’s neighbors, not even for her murder. This decision caused outrage in America and opened many eyes to the constant disregard of Black women, even in death.
The Black community has been hurting for centuries over the loss of so many lives that they hold dear, and Taylor will be yet another name etched into our memories forever. The policing system in America has never allowed the Black man, woman, or child to ever be genuinely free— free of oppression, of fear, and of the shackles placed on their skin color hundreds of years ago— no matter how much we are told, read and hear otherwise.
Civil Rights Activist Malcolm X once 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,” and Breonna Taylor’s story is a prime example.
This tendency is due to the unique discrimination Black women face, sometimes referred to as misogynoir. This term was coined by queer Black feminist Moya Bailey, combining “misogyny,” the prejudice against women, and “noir,” the french word for Black. The expression encompasses the struggles of women in a patriarchal society, along with those of being Black in a Eurocentric world. Statistics support this notion, as Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die in childbirth, even those that are preventable. There are also currently over sixty thousand missing Black girls without media coverage. Even those that do receive this coverage commonly face “news” that focuses on their problems, not who they are as a person. This is significantly different from the news covering White women.
An indication of misogynoir ridding Breonna Taylor of justice was the way George Floyd’s case received more attention than Breonna’s. This stems from society’s propensity to take men more seriously than women, regardless of race, although her blackness unequivocally played a role in her murder and trial.
While George Floyd’s killers were charged for his murder and yesterday, on March 12th 2021, his family received the largest pre-trial settlement in a civil rights wrongful death case in US history, Breonna Taylor’s killer was only charged for wanton endangerment. The jury believed her death was justified, simply because her boyfriend shot once at the officers, thinking they were intruders. They did not, however, condemn the police officers for responding with twenty shots. Although Breonna’s death resulted in a law and a $12 million settlement for her family, she still didn’t receive the justice she deserved.
Breonna Taylor was not taken seriously, even in death. How many more Black women will America fail before people take action?