Was Tayshana Murphy's Murder a Hate Crime?

Tayshana Murphy (Racialicious)
Tayshana Murphy (Racialicious)

In a blog entry at Racialicious, Managing Editor Arturo R. García revisits the story of Tayshana Murphy, a popular New York City basketball star who was shot to death on Sept. 11 in what was widely believed to be a case of mistaken identity. It turns out, García says, that hate may have been a motive.


Less than a month after Murphy was killed, WABC-TV reported that homophobic [graffiti] had been written and drawn on the wall near the stairwell where it happened. Yet, as Mecca Jamilah Sullivan observed in The Feminist Wire, Murphy’s sexuality and how that may have factored into her death was not being talked about:

The D.A.’s indictment press release doesn’t mention the homophobic comments or the possibility that anti-gay hate played a role in the crime. Even the New York Times article on the Grant-Manhattanville feud, which quotes another 18-year-old woman as Murphy’s “girlfriend” leaves the issue of homophobic hate silent, focusing instead on Murphy’s foreshortened basketball career. One exuberantly homophobic blog even goes so far as to say that the love of basketball turned Murphy gay. The message of all these sources is clear: Murphy wasn’t really a black lesbian; she was an athlete. And her loss should be mourned accordingly.

“Even if Tayshana was not lesbian,” LaVictoire wrote after the graphitti was found, “there is always the possibility that she was murdered for just appearing to be lesbian, and because of a view of women that puts such an athletic woman into danger because of a patriarchal view that women should be far more submissive [and] far less athletic.”

Read Arturo R. García's entire blog entry at Racialicious.