LISTEN: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Gender and Police Violence

The #SayHerName Movement was bolstered this week by Making Contact, an award-winning weekly radio program which, on July 6, aired an episode entitled “#SayHerName: Black Love in Action.” It comes at a time of incredible relevance as the country is once again shaken to its core by instance after instance of police brutality against African Americans, this time taking the lives of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.

Issues of racial injustice and policy brutality are gaining widespread media attention, and at the forefront of the battle for equality is the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. BLM spans across state lines and across media forums, uniting the power of social media and online advocacy with protesting to create a fully-fledged movement to demand reforms in policing and the justice system that disproportionately shape the lives of African Americans. In May 2015, the African American Policy Forum launched the #SayHerName Movement to call attention to how police violence against Black women and girls—which is just as pervasive as police violence toward Black men—often goes ignored.

At the center of this Making Contact episode are the questions that make the #SayHerName movement so important: Who are the women impacted by police violence, and why don’t we ever hear about them or march in their names?

The episode begins with an interview of Jamison Robinson, sister of Yuvette Henderson. Henderson was killed by police officers in February 2015 after being accused of shoplifting outside of Home Depot. Henderson’s name and story live on as a chilling example of the violence routinely perpetrated against African American women by police, as well as the lengths that media outlets and law enforcement personnel alike will go to in their efforts to make murders seem justified or even deserved.

That segment is followed by an interview with Manolia Charlotin of The Media Consortium and Cat Brooks of Oakland’s Anti Police-Terror Project, two tireless advocates for BLM and #SayHerName who possess an intricate understanding of racial politics. The women shed light on the need to recognize and address police brutality against Black women and the importance of forming a movement that centers women in the narrative of racial injustice. They also discuss the intellectual underpinnings of the systemic violence against and hatred of Black men and women in our country.

This is a deeply moving, informative work that deserves a listen from anyone who finds themselves confused, disturbed, or saddened by the prevalence of racial violence in our nation. It highlights the gender disparities that can exist even within a movement for equality and justice and exemplifies intersectional feminism. Tune in:


Natalie Geismar is an Editorial Intern at Ms. and a rising sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis, where she double majors in International and Area Studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is an ardent feminist with a passion for human rights work and advocacy of all varieties and hopes to become some combination of international lawyer/activist/journalist/Amal Clooney in the future.