The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation released statistics last week that show a sharp increase in the number of Black women and girls murdered last year, as homicides increased across the country.
As the Guardian notes, the Uniform Crime Report for 2020 shows that at least four Black women and girls were murdered each day in 2020, and an additional 405 murders were reported in comparison to the year before. Experts fear that this may actually be an undercount.
From the Guardian:
The increase in murders of Black women comes as the overall US murder rate rose nearly 30% during the pandemic, the biggest jump in six decades. The number of people murdered increased sharply across racial groups, and in cities big and small. Most of America’s homicide victims remain men, and Black men and boys continue to face the highest overall risk of homicide, with at least 2,400 additional Black men and boys killed in 2020 compared with 2019, according to homicide data reported to the FBI.
“There’s never been a moment in our society where there’s been a reckoning with the particular kinds of violence that’s meted out against Black women,” said Kimberlé Crenshaw, a Black feminist legal scholar and a pioneer in the #SayHerName campaign, according to the Guardian.
Crenshaw worries that factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread access to firearms and existing barriers to mental health resources and preventative services have all made Black women increasingly more vulnerable to violence.
Crenshaw also mentions another factor that should be a part of the conversation: policing. “Many of the Black women whose names we say were killed when the police were called to help them,” she said.
According to the New York Times, analysts pointed out the contributing factors that Crenshaw mentioned, but also noted among the reasons is possibly an increased distrust of police and a police pullback in response to criticism.
The Times reports that the data collected by the FBI shows the biggest rise in murder since record-keeping began in 1960. Homicides are up at least 20 percent in every region of the country, although the national rate still remains about one-third below the rate recorded in the early 1990s.
However, this rising murder rate has illuminated a problem that’s plagued Black women since before the pandemic. Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri said that before the pandemic, Black women were already twice as likely as white women to encounter an offender armed with a handgun, according to statistics from the National Crime Victimization Survey, the Guardian reports.
Now, the FBI statistics show that Black women face a homicide rate three times higher than white women, and the chances of them being murdered have also increased dramatically.
“What’s sad is that a lot of cases aren’t taken too seriously. It’s just another Black girl,” Jennifer Redmond told the Guardian. Her 19-year-old daughter Sarayah Jade was killed at a friend’s apartment last September after someone outside the building began shooting through the windows and walls.
“They’re not gonna get away with this,” Redmond said. “It’s not fair to my daughter and the other Black women and girls out there that are getting killed by their peers. It’s not fair that all these people are losing their lives.”
Advocates and families believe that more intervention efforts are needed in communities to stop the climbing homicide rate.