Women in the Black Lives Matter Movement

When the Black Lives Matter Movement is discussed, the majority of the conversation often centers on the number of black males incarcerated or dying at the hands of law enforcement. Rarely, do we mention the women that have suffered or died under the same or similar circumstances. For example, seven-year-old Aiyana Jones was sleeping on her father’s couch when SWAT stormed into her home looking for a suspect in a recent shooting. Jones was killed because of the SWAT team’s careless mistake. There was no precaution taken to be certain that there were children in the home. This was compounded by the fact that the SWAT team actually entered the wrong home. It is not my intent to discredit or minimize the deaths of males; however, if we say that black lives matter, we must include everyone when we discuss this topic. Therefore, here are just a few of my female heroes who have either participated in the Black Lives Movement or are a person whom the movement also reflects.

 

#1- Malissa Williams was one of the victims of a deadly shooting in Cleveland, an article by Whitney Gaspard details the shooting. The article reports that Williams and her friend Timothy Russell were engaged in a chase by police officers after officers believed that they heard gunshots from the car. It was later discovered that the shots were actually the car’s engine backfiring since there were no weapons found in the car. Gaspard reports that 137 bullets were fired into the car ultimately killing both Williams and Russell. Even though one of the officers has been found not guilty, this shooting sparked a movement in Cleveland. Being a Clevelander, I have noticed more people willing to protest and demand justice for the many victims dying at the hands of police officers.

#2- Sybrina Fulton is the mother of Trayvon Martin. Even though she was thrust into the spotlight through tragedy, she has done it with boldness. Fulton is not afraid to show her true feelings towards the death of her son, nor is she afraid to demand action from the public. In recent interview with New York Magazine, Margaret Hartmann asked her if she has forgiven George Zimmerman for the killing of her son. Fulton admitted that she has not yet come to the place where she can offer forgiveness to Zimmerman.  She stated that it is a process that she still struggles with every day. When asked what she felt should be done to stem the tide of violence she responded by saying, “Don’t wait until something tragic happens to you, or someone in your family, or a close friend or a neighbor- get involved now.” She knows that the organizations fighting for justice can’t do it on their own and suggests that people volunteer their time and talents, or simply donate to the cause.

#3- Honey Bell-Bey is the director of Distinguished Gentlemen of Spoken Word in Cleveland, Ohio. She recently took the group to France to explore and perform. Many of the young poets come from tough circumstances in Cleveland.  Cleveland’s Distinguished Gentlemen Wow French Hosts in First Performance by Lynn Ischay discusses the journey to France. Bell-Bey was very persistent when trying to get all of her poets to France. For a minor to obtain a passport they must have the signature of both parents. This can be difficult when one of your parents is incarcerated. However, Honey Bell-Bey never gave up in trying to get a passport for her youngest member. Ischay notes that Bell-Bey got the help of two government officials , Rep. Marcia Fudge and Sen. Rob Portman,  to get the passport. In the article Bell Bey states “...minors need the signature of both parents to be able to get a passport. With a lot of help and a little convincing, we were finally able to make that happen.”

#4- Johnetta Elzie is the Co-Editor of #Ferguson Protester Newsletter and wrote the essay ‘When I close my eyes at night, I see people running from tear gas’ which was featured in Ebony magazine. Throughout the article she discussed the emotions that filled her following the death of Michael Brown, “his blood on the ground cried out to us. His blood was the call to action.” Elzie has not stop taking action towards the injustices that face Black America. Her activism can be seen on Twitter where she shares the stories of the unheard and encourages her followers to “stay woke.” She is now one of the organizers for We, The Protesters which aims to give organizers the proper tools and resources to empower their communities.

#5- Shonda Rhimes is the executive producer of Scandal and other popular television shows. Last season, Rhimes created an episode which displayed some aspects of the Black Lives Matter Movement. During this episode an unarmed black male was killed by law enforcement. The reason given by the officer was that the young black male posed an imminent threat to the officer by brandishing a knife. The youth’s father refused for his son’s body to be removed until the truth was revealed. Ultimately, it was discovered that the officer was untruthful in his account. Rhimes started conversation throughout her audience with this episode. For some it was a realization that these issues aren’t just on television but many the unfortunate reality of many.

These women understand the importance of the Black Lives Matter Movement and have taken various steps to empower our community to overturn a system that has been unjust to them. Moreover, they are ordinary women doing extraordinary actions, meaning you can join the list as well. It doesn’t take much to impact the community; simply find your passion and use it to achieve the goal of The Blacks Lives Matter Movement. Rather you love tweeting all day long or vlogging empower your community to “stay woke” about police brutality and other injustices in the black community. Hopefully, these women above have encouraged you to join the movement!