What If Miriam Carey Had Been White?

Miriam Carey's family (Michael Graae/Getty Images)
Miriam Carey's family (Michael Graae/Getty Images)

Writing at Ebony magazine, Tanya Steele wonders if Miriam Carey, the woman who tried to drive through a barrier near the White House last week, would have been fatally shot if she had been white. Steele says the incident sheds light on how African-American women with mental illness are perceived in America.  

So, I know how Miriam Carey wound up dead. But, would she be dead if she was in a White female body with a neatly dressed White child in the backseat?

Would the officers have recognized something in her personage, in her child's face, in her clothing that would have alerted them that she was not a threat? She was not shooting back at them. Was she "using the car as a weapon"? In that moment, when they made the decision to free the child, before they shot her mother, had they already made the decision to kill her?

I have heard horror stories about how Black women, who are brilliant, pregnant and single, get treated like pieces of trash in Brooklyn hospitals during childbirth. Regardless of their achievements or their professions, they are dismissed as "just another useless angry, pregnant black woman feeding off of taxpayer dollars." In hospitals and doctor's offices, we are, often times, powerless. I wonder what doctors might have ignored when Miriam Carey, who is said to have dealt with post-partum depression, was hospitalized. Or if those who treated her for her mental health issues saw her as a real human being who was deserving of care.

There is no around-the-clock news coverage of Miriam Carey. Imagine if it was a woman with White skin. We all would become semi-professionals in diagnosing postpartum. But, that's not happening. The media is treating this story the same way they treat all single Black mother—with steadfast disregard.


Read Tanya Steele at Ebony magazine. 

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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