It has been just over a year since Breonna Taylor was fatally shot by police officers in her own apartment on March 13, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. The killing of Breonna Taylor sparked protests and uprisings around the country and raised larger questions about the protection of Black women and Black people more broadly.
So many Black people in America heard the news of Breonna’s death and were triggered thinking of all the ways Black people are not safe in this country. We cannot be guaranteed our safety walking in the park, worshipping at church, walking in the street, playing at a playground, protesting for our freedom and dignity, or even sleeping in our own bed. What does it mean to be Black in this nation? Can we ever be free? Can we ever be seen as equal citizens in a nation that immediately sees us as criminals, not worthy of humanity, or not deserving of the benefit of the doubt that is afforded to so many others.
As I reflect on the Black women in my life who continue to hold it down for their families and their communities, I am keeping the memory of Breonna Taylor close to my heart. I think often of her grieving sister, members of her family and members of her community who will never be the same. I know Breonna Taylor has become a symbol in the movement for Black Lives, but to those individuals, Breonna was a sister, a daughter, and a friend. She was a full person and not just an EMT. She had a full life that many of us will never know.
As we celebrate the organizational skills of Black women across the country, their ability to mobilize communities to get to the polls, their ability to sustain grassroots movements, their skills at fundraising and changing the course of politics on the local, state, and federal levels––we must do more than #TrustBlackWomen, we must actually listen to Black women, support their causes and businesses, and stop relying on Black women to be the sole keepers of democracy.
The past year has been long and traumatic for many. As many people are thinking about how to pay their rent, put food on the table, homeschool their children, mourn the loss of loved ones, and try to survive and thrive in a country (and a world) that is riddled with white supremacy, anti-Black racism and patriarchy, we must continue to hold space for Black women who are carrying a disproportionate level of the burden during these times.
Moving forward, we must remember Black women we have lost and continue to honor their legacy by standing together with other Black women in our lives and finding joy wherever we can.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and also What’s In It For Us podcast.