Breonna Taylor's killer gets a second chance, Black women on Biden-Harris, the health benefits of land reparations
A former officer who shot Breonna Taylor is back in law enforcement, Black women in politics weigh in on the Biden-Harris ticket, Black land collectives combating health disparities, and more.
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Alright, let’s get into it…
The Big 3
One of Breonna Taylor’s killers was hired. We should all be angry.
MSNBC, Patrice Peck
“I understand the potentially transformative power of a second chance, especially as part of a community that only rarely gets them. But in the case of fatal police shootings, the cost is too steep.”
I was browsing Twitter on Monday when I noticed Breonna Taylor’s name trending. Thousands of people were tweeting about how Myles Cosgrove, one of the former police officers who reportedly shot and killed Taylor, had been recently hired for a law enforcement role in a nearby rural county.
This didn’t come as a shock, given the “wandering officers” phenomenon—police fired from one agency only to be hired by another. Just last year, Timothy Loehmann, the former police officer who fatally shot Tamir Rice in 2014, was hired by a Pennsylvania Police department (he resigned a few days later after the small community raised hell). Reading up on the Cosgrove story led me to reports highlighting the lack of federal policing standards and databases that enables “wandering officers” and uncovering past cases in which police officers have walked free after fatally shooting Black girls and women in their home.
Beyond the sheer audacity of it all, what really struck me about Cosgrove’s hiring was his boss Carroll County Chief Deputy Rob Miller’s reasoning: “We’re going to give him a chance,” Miller told WLKY-TV of Louisville.
A chance. How many chances should one get to not shoot and kill a person they had sworn to serve and protect? What message does this send to other officers? To Black girls and women? I unpacked some of those questions and more in an op-ed for MSNBC:
In a 2021 email informing his colleagues of his termination, Cosgrove vented about the difficulty he’d face seeking work with a “dismantled” reputation. He showed then that he believes public perception can directly threaten a person’s life and livelihood. But he has not shown that he understands how that belief affected the actions that led to his firing. He, Miller and so many other Americans fail to admit that Black girls’ and women’s reputations — or lack thereof — among law enforcement are factors in their disproportionate deaths at the hands of police officers.
Please consider supporting my work by reading the full op-ed at MSNBC and sharing it with others.
Why do police departments continually hire and rehire killer-cops?, Black Star News
Sheriff’s Office in Rural Kentucky Hires Detective Who Killed Breonna Taylor, The New York Times
Nearly 250 women have been fatally shot by police since 2015, The Washington Post
Biden Sticks By VP Kamala Harris; Black Women Weigh in On Whether It Was The Right Decision
The Root, Jessica Washington
“Maybe the real question isn’t should Biden have kept Harris, but where is the perception that she’s not living up to the job coming from?”
Black women are at once one of the most marginalized and disenfranchised communities in the United States and one of the most powerful and influential. This dissonance, which is never not jarring, always comes to mind during talks of presidential and midterm elections. Like on Tuesday, when President Biden announced his bid for reelection in the 2024 race, a move that sparked a bunch of articles and op-eds about his decision to stick with his former running mate, Vice President Kamala Harris.
Reading criticisms of Vice President Harris isn’t a straight forward task. During her presidential campaign, her vice presidential nomination, and her current term, she—like so many other Black women politicians—has faced a double standard rooted in misogynoir and been subjected to racist-sexist media coverage and attacks on everything from her character to her facial expressions, according to a Time’s Up Now report. Keep in mind that political news is mostly covered by men (60 percent) and white journalists (78 percent).
That’s why I appreciated this Root article. Jessica Washington speaks with several Black women on the frontlines of U.S. politics for their thoughts on Biden and Harris’ teaming up again.
Tayhlor Coleman, a campaign strategist and voter advocate in Texas, says she highly doubts Biden ever seriously weighed replacing Harris. ‘On day one, Biden has been very clear that Black voters, Black women, in particular, were responsible for him getting him in the White House,’ says Coleman. ‘I think that showing his commitment to the Vice President is something that we all expect and appreciate seeing. So I think absolutely it was a smart choice.’
That’s not to say that some Black women aren’t also biased in their criticisms or support of Harris. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll find as many reported pieces about Vice President Harris written by a Black woman journalist that showcases the voices of several Black women in politics.
‘Don’t get in our way,’ Harris urges in speech at Howard University, Politico
Biden looks to elevate Harris' work as core to re-election bid, NBC
Kamala Harris must keep walking a tightrope for Biden’s reelection bid, The Washington Post
Why Kamala Harris Matters So Much in 2024, The New York Times
Decolonizing Black Women’s Health Through Land Reparations
Yes!, Farah Tanis
“Utilizing land as a mutual aid intervention, we can deploy healthy, communal, and reparative frameworks to bring about positive human functioning, and provide support to build thriving individuals, families, and communities. This means rejecting the century-old myth of rugged individualism and isolationist notions of divide and conquer.”
The best kinds of weekend reads are long but not too long, enlightening, and kaleidoscopic. They mature with multiple reads and sometimes inspire you to just ponder, something we—or maybe it’s just me?—fail to do during the work week. Well, this personal essay/op-ed hybrid by Farah Tanis is exactly that.
Tanis is the executive director and cofounder of Black Women's Blueprint, a Brooklyn-based Black land collective dedicated to helping Black women and girls thrive after trauma through counseling, education, and health care access.
As Tanis explains, ‘Black land collectives, whether through deeded lands or land trusts, are a remedy for the collective grief from which Black people have struggled to recover.’
There’s so much packed into this piece: intimate reflections on Tanis’ family history, the toxicity of “rugged individualism,” land reparations and communal environments as health solutions, and more. Plus, I hadn’t heard of the intense backlash Tanis and her organization faced when holding a town hall meeting about the launch of their land-based healing entity Restore Forward in Ava, New York (where they own 300 acres of land). Add this solutions-centered story to your weekend list and let me know what you think.
Lorraine Hansberry’s family says Chicago’s racist policies seized their land. Now they’re seeking reparations., The 19th News
A Blueprint for Black Liberation, The Atlantic
After years of IVF, I’m pregnant: What I’d like other women struggling to become mothers to know
Today, Yamiche Alcindor
“It helped that so many women have been transparent about their journeys and all the different ways people arrive at motherhood. But still, there were so many nights when I cried myself to sleep feeling a deep sense of resentment at my reality. And maybe this is the thing that people don’t talk about enough: IVF, while widely used, can still feel like a lonely, all-encompassing hell when you’re in the middle of it.”
Black Pregnant Women Are Tested More Frequently for Drug Use, Study Suggests
The New York Times, By Roni Caryn Rabin
“Hospitals are more likely to give drug tests to Black women delivering babies than white women, regardless of the mother’s history of substance use, suggests a new study of a health system in Pennsylvania. And such excessive testing was unwarranted, the study found: Black women were less likely than white women to test positive for drugs.”
Black Girl Nerds, Archuleta Chisolm
“It’s been proven that mental conditions manifest differently in Black women. Due to gender and race socialization, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) shows up much differently in Black people and women and girls.”
Government & Politics
Black women put Biden in office in 2020. Will they do it again in 2024?
The San Francisco Chronicle, Justin Phillips
“In 2024, he will need the demographic’s support again to secure a second term, but there remain questions around whether he has done enough to earn their backing.”
Guns Aren't Making Us Safer. Mothers Are
Essence, Angela Ferrell-Zabala
“We’ve created a bench of volunteers who are going from advocating for policy to writing it, helping to take majorities in statehouses, in Congress and more. More than 275 volunteers and gun violence survivors ran in the 2021-22 election cycle — 158 of them won their races.”
NY panel sought to investigate missing women and girls of color
Gothamist, Arya Sundaram
“In New York state, despite representing less than 15% of minors, Black youth made up the majority of missing children, with Black girls over 13 comprising the largest group of disappearance, according to the 2020 Missing Persons Clearinghouse Annual Report.”
Sarah Nurse Continues to Break Boundaries in Women's Hockey
NBC Los Angeles, Mike Gavin
“Her success, which had previously landed her on the front of Cheerios boxes, led to increased visibility off the ice. She was selected as the cover athlete for “NHL 23” alongside Anaheim Ducks star Trevor Zegras. Nurse became the first woman to be featured on the EA Sports video game franchise.”
Howard’s Kimora Williams Fights for Diversity and Equity as a Black Woman Lacrosse Player
Washington City Paper, Katie Marlow
“Having dealt with the inequalities herself, Williams is doing her part to make it easier for the little Black girl she once was. However, it is not up to student athletes like Williams to do it alone. Williams encourages the NCAA and her own university to do better in promoting and uplifting women athletes.”
How Carolyn Peck's path to Women's Basketball Hall of Fame was elevated by Dawn Staley's titles
The Tennessean, Cora Hall
“Peck is the first Black woman to win an NCAA women's basketball championship. But she's also one of four coaches to win a women's basketball national title within their first two seasons as a head coach.”
Black Cowgirls Gallop On In Face Of US Rodeo Stereotypes
AFP, Agnes Bun
At 16, Morissa Hall is a first-generation Black cowgirl and rising rodeo star, against the sport's stereotypical whiteness and masculinity. Her goal is to inspire new riders with the help of her father Morse Hall, who coaches her and takes her to competitions, where "95% of the time, she's the only little girl of color there."
Crime & Law
Black Girl Killed In Shooting Just Miles From Where Dad Was Fatally Shot
“A 12-year-old girl in Connecticut was killed in a drive-by shooting just miles away from where her father was fatally shot over 10 years ago.”
After Ralph Yarl, A Pregnant Black Woman Was Shot By Mistake
The Root, Kalyn Womack
“Johnson was going to pick up a few people from an Easter event in Baton Rouge when several people began firing at her vehicle, per ABC. Authorities say the shooters believed her vehicle was that of someone who drove by the party earlier, firing shots into the air.”
Investigation launched as Black woman wrongly accused of theft at Aldi condemns store’s ‘racial profiling’
The Independent, Nadine White
Eleanor, who does not want to use her full name for fear of backlash, had already bought her goods and was about to leave when she says the manager, flanked by a security guard, demanded to search her handbag.”
Rhode Island cop remains on force after assaulting Black female politician
Revolt, Angel Saunders
“Last summer, a Rhode Island police officer was filmed punching a Black female politician at an abortion rights rally.”
Economy & Business
Three Women Are Putting Beauty Vending Machines In Black Hair Care Deserts: 'Everyone Should Be Able To Care For Their Crowns,'
Essence, Jasmine Browley
“I started thinking about how I could solve this access issue in a smart way without opening a neighborhood brick-and-mortar beauty supply store, an industry that has notoriously locked Black women out (dominated by Asian owners), and vending machines came to mind.”
Sacramento's Black women-owned marijuana delivery service Crystal Nugs plans to expand
KCRA3, DeNeeka Hill
“Crystal Nugs CEO Maisha Bahati hopes to open a dispensary later this summer. There's the possibility of it becoming Sacramento’s first consumption lounge, she said.”
Social Issues & Policy
The Woman Shaping a Generation of Black Thought
The New York Times, Jenna Wortham
“If there’s an argument at the center of “Ordinary Notes,” it is that attentiveness and imagination are powerful restorative agents capable of reconstituting what has been broken down and targeted for obliteration.”
Entertainment & Art
Freaknik united thousands of Black college students, but it posed risks for Black women
The 19th News, Nadra Nittle
“Black people are so image conscious, particularly when the image is going to be consumed in front of White people, so the idea that sexual assault took place at the hands of Black men becomes an embarrassment that we don’t want to deal with. We don’t want to confirm stereotypes about Black men being predators.”
Raven-Symoné was only the 'sidekick' in first That's So Raven script, says costar Anneliese van der Pol
Entertainment Weekly, Joey Nolfi
“I think it was kind of like racism at a low level, if that's even a possibility. They couldn't really see a Black girl leading a show.”
Alison Saar’s Formidable Sculptures Honor Black Women’s Rebellion
Artsy, Ayanna Dozier
“In particular, the exhibition amplifies Saar’s knack for unearthing Black spiritual and cultural legacies, which she uses artistically as well as for healing, an act of rebellion against contemporary oppressive systems.”
Louisiana woman's 5-foot afro is world's largest, Guinness says, giving her title for 3rd time
USA Today, Saleen Martin
“A Louisiana woman has set a Guinness world record for having the largest afro on a living person, and it's not her first time doing it.”
Buried Alive: The (Un) told Stories of Black Women in Academia
Diverse Education, Janelle L. West and Brandy Jones
“‘Oftentimes it feels like they [ the institution] tries to bury us [Black women], but the irony is we were seeds, and as we build community amongst ourselves, we grow.’”
Black school nurse fills a need for students of color
WISH-TV, Jasmine Minor
“When Mitcham became a school nurse, she fell into part of just 4.8% of Black school nurses nationwide, according to data from the National Association of School Nurses. Her relationships with students are an even rarer gem.”
Environment & Energy
Black Girl Environmentalist Is Giving Black Girls and Non-Binary People a Seat at the Table This Earth Day
Teen Vogue, Alyssa Hardy
“Climate doomism is the idea that taking action to reduce the threat of climate change is pointless because it's already too late. Not only is this concept factually incorrect (we are actually in the most important decade FOR climate action), but it is grounded in privilege. For so many Black communities around the world, giving up — especially right now — is not an option.”