By: Johnetta Anderson
I am numb with questions. An estranged lover stabbed a Black woman to death on a train during rush hour, and a photo of her dead body circulated on the Internet. There are so many pieces to this puzzle that are both sickening and traumatizing. After all of the analyzing I have done, I have come to realize that Black women have to be our own protectors. It is the only way we will survive.
Puzzle Piece I: When a Woman Calls for Help, Listen.
Immediately after the stabbing, a post surfaced on Facebook. In the post, the murderer was sending stalking messages to the victim, Jessica, via Facebook. The messages were on her wall and viewed by people other than Jessica. The one question that keeps coming to me is did she scream for help? Did she cry loudly until a vibrato rattled her throat?
I know what it’s like to be harassed and stalked by someone suffering from a mental illness. I also know what it’s like to constantly yell to deaf ears for help, and for people to assure me that he’s harmless. For his family to tell me I’m overreacting, or for the men I looked to for support telling me I’m crying wolf. For Black men to make jokes about me having a stalker, your ass done got fat, and now niggas stalking. But none of this was funny to me. I was sincerely in fear for my life. I know what it’s like going back and forth to court trying to get a restraining order and never being able to obtain one. To not have enough documents to get a restraining order or something that will protect me. I know what it is like to constantly look over my shoulder, because I never know when he’ll appear or what he might have if he does jump out of some bush. Or if we are both on the same CTA cart and he happens to have a knife. I know that fear. I know that paranoia.
Did she scream for help? Did they believe she was crying wolf? Did she tell anyone? If she did not tell, did she believe she could tell? Is there support for Black women that tell?
Is there support for Black women that tell?
Is there support for Black women that tell?
Is there support for Black. Women. That. Tell!
Is there any support for Black women when they cry I am unsafe and I need help.
Black men are protected even when they are predators, and I am inclined to believe that we are teaching the world this. We are teaching the world to protect our predators because they might be sick but are “harmless.” Black women, we have to stop protecting our sons and nephews when they are wrong, or when they become hazardous to the well being of others. When a woman voices that she is unsafe in the presence of a Black man, we know most Black men will condemn her. We know this. I was condemned and not taken seriously. We have to hold our sons, nephews, and cousins accountable when we know they are predators. When we know they suffer from a mental illness and have become a threat to someone’s safety.
Puzzle Piece II: A Dead Black Woman has Just as Much Control Over Her Body Than A Woman Who Is Alive.
During the stabbing, many passengers called the police repeatedly. However, in Chicago, the police cannot enter the train until it has reached an appropriate stop. The stop was 47th street. Chicago is very segregated, meaning anything that is south of the redline train, is normally a predominately Black neighborhood. I take the redline train to the Southside almost everyday, and it doesn’t start to become diverse until it reaches 35th street. This is because anything north of 35th street is majority white.
As this Black woman is being stabbed, everyone (I assume) is too traumatized to help her but someone photographs Jessica’s dead body. Not only was her body photographed, but it was uploaded to Facebook and soon went viral. Facebook users shared her picture as she rested in a pool of blood next to her calls for help. Why is a Black woman’s body exotic even when she’s lying in a pool of blood? Murdered. Did her mom see the picture before she had learned about what happened? I could not imagine logging into Facebook to update my status, and a random picture of my loved one is in my newfeeds after he or she suffered such an horrendous murder.
Black women are human. We love; cry, and we fight so hard for our men and children. Our bodies are always taken and used for the gain of others. If the gain is not to make money and get hundreds of thousands of views for a music video, it’s to use a dead woman’s body to get likes and shares for a facebook post. This shows the lack of respect for Black womanhood. Even after she is slaughtered, her body is being passed around. This is a form of oppression. It also sends a message to other Black women that says we are not protected, not our lives or our bodies.
Puzzle Piece III. Who Protects Us.
I march and protest regularly. I am apart of a community that demands justice when white police officers brutally murder Black men and women. I am apart of a community of artists making songs and poems to uplift Black men and women. We say “ashe” and know the importance of Africa and pan Africanism. We call out our white oppressors and we celebrate exactly what it means to be Africans who survived the diaspora. I’ve been loved in this community, and I’ve also been harmed in the community. I’ve been victimized and protected within this community.
I am saying all of this to say, what happens when the predator is not a white police officer with a badge. When he’s not a white racist man who hates all Black people? I’ve had plenty of situations where the predator was the brother I stood next to at a protest. We both chanted I can’t breathe! We were both on the same team. What happens when HE is my oppressor? How do I fight him when he is oppressed too? How do I make him understand that he grabbed my body without my permission and I feel violated? How do I make him understand how I feel, when doesn’t understand this form of violation. When Black men and women tell him that he’s a man, and he is entitled to my body. Who took her picture as she posed in cold Blood? How do we get Black people to understand they are not entitled to a Black woman’s body? Who will protect us?