When Will Black Women Matter?

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On July 21st, 18-year-old Nia Wilson was standing on a Bay Area Rapid Transit station platform in Oakland, CA, when she was stabbed to death in an apparently unprovoked attack by John Cowell, a suspected White supremacist. The Black community, in a rage, immediately took to the hashtag #NiaWilson, but actress Anne Hathaway used her privileged platform to inform the public that Wilson is worth more than just a hashtag.

Hathaway, in a impassioned Instagram post, recently wrote that the killing of Wilson, was “unspeakable AND MUST NOT be met with silence. She is not a hashtag; she was a black woman and she was murdered in cold blood by a white man,” wrote Hathaway.

The celebrity’s post begins to unpack what it means to be a White woman in America: “White people – including me, including you – must take into the marrow of our privileged bones the truth that ALL black people fear for their lives DAILY in America and have done so for GENERATIONS. White people DO NOT have equivalence for this fear of violence.” Hathaway’s words attempt to shift that narrative in Wilson’s killing.

Although Wilson was a fatal victim of a hate crime, some media sources still managed to portray her as a less-than innocent victim. An Oakland TV Station, KTVU, featured a photo of Wilson holding what appeared to be a gun, while she was actually holding a gun-shaped phone case.

To be a Black woman not only in America, but in the world means to be dehumanized, and to hold somewhere deep in the pit of your stomach, a sense of fear, a knowing that at any moment your dignity or your safety or your life could be compromised. We know this feeling deeply and intimately, just as we know the feeling of being the “only one” in a classroom of White faces; just as we know the feeling of our demeanor being perceived as threatening or aggressive; just as we know the daily exhaustion from code switching in our speech; just as we know the feeling of having to “keep things together” in a world that doesn’t seem to care about us.

The violence against Black women exists on so many levels, including  physical to emotional levels. According to an article on Ebony Magazine’s website, Black women are killed in America at a higher rate than women of any other race.

When people who have lived in war zones experience trauma, depression, or PTSD no one questions why. That fact that war causes trauma is an accepted fact. But in America, we’re not allowed to blame White supremacy, an atrocity that is the source of generational trauma for Black Americans. To point to White supremacy as the source of trauma in this country is to engage in taboo.

Of course, #BlackLivesMatter, but when will the so often forgotten Black women matter?

Rest in power, Nia Wilson.


By Sullivan Anderson, Junior, Jones College Prep

Twitter: @amoursullivan

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