“As the nation wrestles with the relentless reality of police violence against Black, Brown and Indigenous bodies and the enduring impacts of mass incarceration on individuals, families and communities of color, we also continue to grapple with invisibility and erasure of women’s experiences of state violence.” (Andrea Ritchie)

Echoing the Black Lives Matter movement, our campaign seeks to center the experiences of Black trans, gender non-binary folx, and women.

Although many of us are familiar with the names of Black men victims of police brutality, we are less familiar with the names of Black women who experience state violence. In particular, transgender and gender non-conforming Black women routinely experience profiling, homophobic and transphobic harassment and abuse, as well as physical, sexual and sometimes deadly violence or neglect by police.

In 2003, Chevranna Abdi, a twenty-six-year-old Black transgender woman died in Ontario in  police custody under highly suspicious circumstances. Abdi was handcuffed and dragged, facedown, down seven flights of stairs by officers. The officers claimed that they were “fatigued” from carrying her and forced “to release her legs, letting her lower limbs drag while they carried her upper body face down” (Brown 2006, emphasis added). On the main floor, she was not breathing and subsequently died in police custody (Brown 2006). Instead of noting the transphobia, misogyny, sexism, and racism in this case, the media and public decided to instead dehumanize her and disrespect her life.

from Policing Black Lives by Robyn Maynard

State violence against Black women and gender non-conforming folx is not solely at the  hands of the police. As Robyn Maynard reminds us, “the policing of Black women often takes different forms, and relies on different dehumanizing racial and gendered logics, than those experienced by Black men. Less visible forms of state surveillance and punishment are enacted by police, customs officers and welfare agents, all of whom have enormous power over the day-to-day private and public lives of Black women”.

Racial profiling and police officers’ responses to Black women are informed by stereotypes deeply rooted in slavery and misogynoir. The term “misogynoir” was coined by queer Black feminist Moya Bailey to identify the virulent and often unseen hatred directed at Black women due to the intersection of anti-Blackness, misogyny and racism in society.

Furthemore, in the Canadian context, state violence against Indigenous women is also rampant. From the Human Rights Watch investigation that revealed systemic neglect and horrific accounts of abuse toward Indigenous women and girls by B.C police, including rape, death threats, violent arrests, the use of tasers on girls as young as twelve years old and other accounts of sexual and physical abuse (Human Rights Watch 2013) to Quebec’s  Val D’Or investigation, in which dozens of Indigenous women who described being sexually or physically assaulted by provincial police (Dupuis and Panasuk 2016a, 2016b), including #MMIW2S&G, it is obvious that violence against Indigenous women exists and that it’s only another aspect of colonial violence.

Audrey Smith, Stacey Bonds, Chevranna Abdi, Mireille Romulus, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Chantal Moore, and many more.

#SayHerName is a response to the lack of public attention to this. Alongside the Black Lives Matter Movement, we affirm that justice and liberation must come for ALL Black and Indigenous people.

Liberation will come when we center the experiences of those at the margins. Trans, Queer, gender non-conforming, diabled, and Black women’s lives matter. Their voices must be leading this movement because, as Robyn Maynard reminds us:

“For many Black gender-oppressed people, it’s necessary to look to models outside the state for creating real safety and security that do not rely on the police, but instead focus on community-led, transformative forms of justice that are centred on the lives and experiences of Black women and gender non-conforming folks. Being uniquely positioned at the intersections of multiple forms of societal and state violence has allowed Black women to be at the forefront of community-based anti-racist, feminist, queer-friendly and class-conscious responses to gendered and state violence in Canada.”

Source: Policing Black Lives by Robyn Maynard