Breonna Taylor was asleep in her apartment on March 13. In the middle of the night, she was shot six times and killed by Louisville police officers recklessly executing a warrant with incorrect information. The Kentucky Attorney General announced on September 23 that no charges would be brought against the officers whose bullets killed Breonna Taylor. The state’s unwillingness to see and act on the crime committed against Breonna Taylor is an injustice on many levels, and it continues to reopen the wounds that Black women experience on a daily basis. It does not escape our notice that Attorney General Cameron made this announcement on the 75th anniversary of the day an all-white jury returned a Not Guilty verdict in the murder of Emmet Till. Our hearts are heavy, both at the loss of this young Black woman and at the state’s unwillingness to prosecute the crime committed against her by the Louisville police.
As a national women’s health organization, we understand that health justice demands racial justice. The experience of racism directly harms the health of Black, indigenous, undocumented and other women of color. We know the following: Health means being able to give birth supported by practitioners who treat every patient with respect. Health means being able to see a doctor for gynecological problems without being coerced into a hysterectomy. Health means being able to walk safely, whether in a cis or trans body, on a rural highway or a city street. Health means having access to clean water.
We know that these and other foundational aspects of health are denied to many Black, indigenous, undocumented and other women of color due to structures and systems established and sustained by White supremacy. We know change must happen and it must happen NOW. Policies that support the unjust and inequitable treatment of Black, indigenous, undocumented and other women of color must improve, including policies that govern the use of force by police.
In our work for the health of women in all their diversities, we will continue to speak up against injustice and work for a world in which all women are able to, simply, sleep.
Evita Almassi, MSW, served as the Communications and Digital Marketing Manager for the NWHN. Her 10+ years in nonprofit communications – especially with social media advocacy campaigns – enabled the NWHN to reach and empower more women in their health education and advocacy journeys.