Why Are Black Female Crime Victims Invisible?

Rekia Boyd, an innocent bystander, was shot in 2012 by Chicago police. (ABC News screenshot)
Rekia Boyd, an innocent bystander, was shot in 2012 by Chicago police. (ABC News screenshot)

Why are black female crime victims invisible? Joy Goh-Mah, at the Telegraph, asks the pertinent question after the global media virtually ignored recent news about the bodies of three black women being discovered in trash bags in Cleveland. Would there have been a public outcry if the victims had been white?

On the July 21 the bodies of three African-American women were discovered in Cleveland, Ohio, wrapped in garbage bags and discarded near a garage. As the investigation went on and the women's families grieved, this horrific news found its way into national media. Yet, the press coverage it received failed to dominate the mainstream global media, nor did it generate the level of public outrage one might expect.

And we have to ask ourselves an uncomfortable question: would news of a serial killer have sparked more outrage, more fear, more anger, if his victims were white? How much value does society really place on the lives of black women? …

A study conducted in 2008 demonstrates how black people are subconsciously associated with animals, and there is a wealth of research on the objectification and dehumanisation of women. As Jamila Aisha Brown points out, a black woman, Rekia Boyd, was simply an innocent bystander when she was shot by a police officer in 2012. Even now, the officer in question faces no criminal charges, as his file is still awaiting review in Chicago's State Attorney's office, yet the name of Rekia Boyd has not had even a fraction of the publicity that Trayvon Martin's has had. The name of Aiyana Jones, too, a black girl killed due to a police error, has slipped under the public radar.

Media representations, where black women are rendered either invisible or else heavily stereotyped and where they are often portrayed with animalistic language or images, play a huge role in reflecting, as well as feeding into, society's dehumanisation of black women…


Read Joy Goh-Mah's complete piece at the Telegraph.

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