The epidemic of young Black men being gunned down by police officers across the country has been a topic that’s regained much traction in the public eye over the last 5-6 years, but what about the Black women who are falling victim to the same treatment?

Women across the country have recently come together in support of the #SayHerName movement, which brings awareness to African-American women and girls who have been unjustly killed or harmed by police officers.  The latest call to action came this past Thursday, when a group of young Black women went topless during a protest in downtown San Francisco that stopped traffic and garnered headlines from major news outlets.


In a time where American culture seems to be increasingly consumed with finding any and every way to incorporate public nudity into our daily lives, I initially struggled to grasp the necessity of making a correlation between marching nude and protesting for justice.  I was later enlightened to read that the purpose of the topless aspect of the march was to illustrate how Black women’s bodies are used as a commodity in the U.S. but don’t seem to be nearly as valued when it comes to how many of us are treated or handled by law enforcement.  Whether you’d rip off your bra and march down the highway or not, you can’t deny the fact that brown skin and curvy figures are equaling dollar signs to more and more mainstream entities. So why shouldn’t we also task these industries to take a stand for the same group of women who keep their pockets lined?

Although I still don’t personally find the nudity tactic necessary to prove the point that seeking justice for Black women slain by police officers should be just as important as seeking justice for Black men who fall victim to the same type of brutality, I do agree with the overall message of the #SayHerName campaign and applaud these women for being fearless enough to fight a fight that has been uncontested for way too long.

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  • Mary Burrell

    I was waiting for Clutch to do a post on this. I am not a feminist or womanist but i understand why these movements exist because women need their voices to be heard as well. I saw this covered on Google + and i wonder like two other posters were are the men? Why were there no men standing in solidarity for the fallen women?

    • Brad

      Apparently some men did in fact join in on the demonstration.

      “There were black women on their way to work who stopped and cried, thanked the women who were protesting,” she said.

      Some “men joined the demonstration”, and while they experienced a few unpleasant words from frustrated commuters, the police were cooperative, Berry added.

  • These women are courageous without question. It is a shame that during this generation that we witness the overt minimization of the abuse and murder of black women by the police. Black women are not only abused and killed by the police, but by others as well. I understand what the protest is all about. It’s about strong women the making the accurate point that regardless if a woman is topless or not, her human value should never be degraded at all. No woman and no human being should suffer injustice or murder unjustly at all. More men should stand in solidarity with the movements of women. Things must change for the better and we have a long way to go. Yet, we have to stand up and speak up for the truth and for justice. We don’t want any black woman or any black man to be murdered by the police. We know that the police institution (which is in league with the capitalist establishment) has great fallibility as shown in the recent events in Cleveland. In the final analysis, if women are not free, no one is truly free regardless of someone’s gender, color, or nationality.

    • joe

      Most black men are not marching or protesting when other black men are killed by police. The truth is only a tiny percentage of black folks participate in any public protest for justice. The vast majority, men and women, stay home and watch on television. Many won’t even do that much.

    • That’s all the more reason for more men (and people in general) to talk about this issue and to stand up for the black lives in general. Standing up isn’t just protesting, though I have no problem with protesting per se. Standing up is organizing and working in programs that help black women (who suffer police brutality). Standing up is to privately and publicly express solidarity and support to black women suffering. This is a real life issue that has been ignored by many people. I’m glad that this story is shown, so more people can understand the seriousness of this problem. Also, we should do what is right regardless if a majority of people stay home or not. One thing about life is that nothing works unless action is done. So, things should change.

    • joe

      The point is that the white-controlled mainstream media has made the decision not to cover police abuse of black women. The people deciding which stories get covered and which ones get ignored look nothing like us and they don’t live among us. When it comes to raising national awareness, the protests need to be directed at the decision-making executives in the media boardrooms.

    • CoolChic

      Agreed. I don’t know if anyone heard but a judge just acquitted a white cop michael brelo of shooting a Black couple 137 times in their car.

    • The point is also that many people intentionally ignore the plight of black women not just the mainstream media. Yes, the white controlled mainstream media has done evil and will not cover the police abuse of black women in a real level. You’re exactly right on that point. Also, it is important to mention that many people who, embrace misogynoir (not just media types), intentionally ignore the abuse and police brutality against black women as well. You have white supremacists and other people who embrace misogynoir and refuse to stand up for the dignity and humanity of black women. That’s a problem too. We have to confront this problem and solve our problems as black people. I have no problem with your words on protests against media executives who make a living to exploit the suffering of black people. No one disagrees with you on that point. Also, we need to make a concerted effort (in a higher level) to end misogynoir (as embraced by white racists, Tommy Sotomayor, Sgt. Pete Willie, and others), police brutality, and injustice once and for all.

    • lareyna

      Mainstream America never give a darn about Black women period. They see us as inferior people without humanity. Because America is built on racism and sexism, Black womens’ sufferings by Black and white men are invisible and nonconsequencial.

    • The video of the black teenage girl being assaulted by the crooked cop shows how mainstream America views Black females in general. It’s a disgrace.

    • lareyna

      So true.

  • Mary Burrell

    It doesn’t matter what age the woman is either in regards to police brutality, Last year after that 55 year old woman was savagely beaten by that California highway patrolman. I understand it could be anybody in black skin for any reason.

  • mmmdot

    As Anna Julia Cooper said: “Only the Black woman can say “when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole Negro race enters with me.”


    The Combahee River Collective Statement: “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.”

  • G

    I am in favor of the protest, as well as firm believer in the right of a person to exercise their right to take place in an act of civil unrest.

    However, the going topless in a society that finds a woman’s breast to be highly sexual, this act alone may have overshadowed the power of the message.

    • Rizzo

      some get their panties in a big bunch over public breast feeding.