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12 November 2009

Who Is Killing Black Women?


Who isn't? Some days I feel endangered. Not just like an endangered species. But endangered myself. Not from any one I know or see around me, but from the world at large.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
the leading cause of death among black women between 25 and 34 is HIV/AIDS;
HIV/AIDS is also the third leading cause of death among black women between 35 and 44;
HIV/AIDS is also the fourth leading cause of death
among black and latina women between 45 and 54.
The vast majority of those women are infected by intimate partners, in many cases by men they trust and believe are monogamous. There are women who are coerced into unprotected sex with their partners and women who are raped.
In some cases, if those women seek medical care for their rape trauma, they may find themselves denied medical insurance later if they are treated prophylactically for HIV/AIDS. (Lack of medical insurance does not enhance life expectancy in our world.)
Other women - black, brown, beige and white are being killed outright by their partners.
Murder is the leading cause of death among pregnant women and pregnant black women are three times more likely to be murdered than pregnant white women.
Anthony Sowell, the alleged serial killer in Cleveland OH is the primary suspect in the murders of at least eleven black women whose bodies have been found in and around his home. Some of the missing women were not reported as missing others were and their cases were not CNN-MSNBC-Nancy-Grace headline worthy. Missing black women do not receive the same media attention as missing white women.
There has been some discussion in the aftermath of the Sowell discovery as it overlaps with the execution of John Allen Muhammad for the serial sniper killings in the Washington DC area in 2002 of occurrence of black serial killers. Are there really fewer black serial killers than white (or those from other ethnic groups)?
If it is the case that serial killers generally (although certainly not exclusively) target members of their own ethnic communities, then does it matter that the likely majority of black serial killers' victims are - and will be - black women? Does anyone care?
Who is killing black women? It is horrifying to consider that in many, many cases, the killers of black women are black men.
Black men are supposed to be our cultural bulwark: fathers, uncles, elder brothers; fulfillment of romantic dreams: lover, friend, partner, partner, companion and our co-journers and sojourners in the struggle: brothers and brothas. And many are all that and more.
Yet there are these predators, who devalue the lives and bodies of black women and meet little cultural opposition. They are out there. And they are dangerous. They are killing us.
Late addition: I have to add that black women also kill black women. And some mothers kill their daughters before they can grow into women. I don't know who is responsible for killing five-year old Shaniya Davis, but the thought that her mother is implicated in prostituting and trafficking her is heartbreaking.

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