Say Their Names

I’m still reeling from the shock of the massacre that occurred at Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the oldest black churches in this nation, its history is one of resistance and solace. And this history continues to bear witness to the horrors of white supremacy with the recent murders of nine African […]

A Girl Child Ain’t Safe

“I had to fight my uncles. I had to fight my brothers. A girl child ain’t safe in a family of men.” So said Sofia, the hefty, feisty woman in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (and immortalized by Oprah Winfrey in the film adaptation). In a novel highlighting protagonist Celie, an incest survivor who ultimately […]

Oppression vs. Discrimination: How the Law Failed Ellen Pao

When is a gender discrimination lawsuit not about gender discrimination? Always. Gender discrimination cases are proxies for challenges to existing social norms that support unearned privilege. A claim of gender discrimination is a charge that there is bias, both conscious and unconscious, that perpetuates the status quo. Ellen Pao’s suit against the venture capital firm Kleiner, […]

McKinney and the History of Policing Black Women’s Bodies

Last Friday, a white police officer in McKinney, Texas, Cpl. Eric Casebolt, responded to a call about an incident at a teenage pool party. While there, he grabbed—by the hair—bikini-clad Dajerria Becton, a 15-year old African American girl who was a guest at the party, wrestled her to the ground and held her there with […]

What the Supreme Court Didn’t Decide This Week

The most important thing to know about the Supreme Court’s decision on June 1 in Elonis v. United States is that it does not resolve the question of when the First Amendment allows people to be punished for speech threatening others. Facebook and other social media have made it much more common for people to make […]

#SayHerName: Remembering Black Women and Girls Killed by Police

Aiyana Jones. Rekia Boyd. Tarika Wilson. Duanna Johnson. Kayla Moore. The list of black women and girls victimized by police violence stretches on endlessly. The simple act of speaking their names has power. It symbolizes a refusal to forget these women and who they were. It honors the lives they lived and the loved ones […]

The Police Sex-Discrimination Case We Should Be Talking About

In December 2013, Colorado Springs’ Chief of Police Peter Carey introduced a physical abilities test (also known as a PAT) that all officers were required to pass. It involved push-ups, sit-ups and running exercises. The stated goal of the test was to create a “culture of fitness” on the force and to reduce work-related injuries, ostensibly […]

Marriage Equality Forecast: Victory Is Near!

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has taken up the broad question of whether marriage is a constitutionally protected right for same-sex couples, a nationwide victory may be less than two months away. There were no surprises in last week’s hearings. Opponents of marriage equality had nothing new to say. They made the same unconvincing claims that […]

How to Defuse Police Violence

As the crisis continues to unfold in Baltimore and in communities across the country, it becomes increasingly clear that hiring the right types of police officers is imperative to improving police-community relations. In the Winter 2015 issue of Ms., I outlined why hiring more women officers would go a long way to reducing police violence. Below, find […]

Inside the Supreme Court’s First Day of Marriage Equality Hearings

I got to the Supreme Court to hear arguments for and against marriage equality early Tuesday morning, but the crowds were already everywhere—outside as well as in various lines snaking throughout the court. Bag and coat safely in a locker, I made my way into the gallery. The court was packed as the clerk shouted […]