I look down at my hands and they are covered in blood, and there is blood on my clothes. And I don’t know where the blood is coming from. My heart beats wildly in my chest. Whose blood is this? I wonder. Then I wake up. I’m in my room. There is no blood. I was dreaming. The nightmare has ended. But my breathing is heavy. And I can’t slow down the pounding in my chest even though I’m wide awake. The feeling follows me throughout the day.
My heart feels heavy—like it’s weighted down with a cement block tossed into the ocean. No matter how much I try, I can't seem to lift my spirits. I see Her bloodied body pop up in my news feed. I am startled, and then I quickly press hide. And then I am angry: angry at the insensitive asshole who took the picture and posted it, and angry that I didn’t report it to Facebook for being offensive. I guess I was shocked that the photo was even there.
A young woman is dead. She's dead because a man felt entitled. She's dead because she said no. She's dead because he stabbed her in broad daylight, on a train while people watched. She's dead because people didn't try and intervene. They live streamed the savage attack, and posted photos of her bloodied dead body on social media before her family was even notified. News reports say the family found out via social media. Her name was Jessica Hampton She was 25 and the mother of a young daughter.
This story really bothers me. I don’t know if it’s because of the callousness of not only the killer, but the bystanders as well. I don’t if it’s because it happened in the middle of the day, or because it’s the third senseless killing of a Black woman in Chicago in a little over a month. There was 32 year-old Pamela Johnson who was killed fleeing would be robbers. She was hit by a truck. There was 49 year-old Yvonne Nelson who was exiting Starbucks and took a bullet to the chest that wasn't meant for her. And now this. I’m a Black woman; I live in Chicago. And I’m afraid.
Is my anxiety because these women were killed in the city where I live? A city plagued by violence. That’s part of it for sure. But I also experienced similiar angst when 16 year-old Amy Inita Joyner-Francis died after being jumped in the bathroom at her high school in Delaware, and again just recently when police found the badly decomposed body of 40-year-old Lyntell Washington in a ditch in Louisana.
|Amy Inita Joyner-Francis|
The deaths of these women sit with me. They stay with me when the media move on. They remind me of our fragile existence as Black women and girls and our never-ending struggle to find peace in a place in that too often tries to render us invisible or devalues us if we are seen at all.
There is very little love for the Black woman and girl when we are living, so I read these stories and I wonder who will weep for the loss of the lives of Black women and girls?