A young black woman is dead after an unidentified man shot her in the head after she approached his home in the suburbs of Detroit, multiple news outlets reported this week. Renisha McBride, 19, was looking for help after her cell phone died following a car accident, relatives told the Detroit News, CBS’ Crimesider Blog reported today.
“He shot her in the head … for what? For knocking on his door,” McBride’s aunt Bernita Spinks told the Detroit News. “If he felt scared or threatened, he should have called 911.”
The man who police say shot McBride has not been formally charged of anything, though, since prosecutors are requesting more information before bringing up charges.
McBride is the latest in a long, sad string of unarmed black people menacingly killed for no reason at all. The perpetrators of these crimes have all cried self-defense, despite the fact that each teen was without any sort of weapon and did not initiate any sort of violence against their killers.
There is decidedly less outrage around McBride’s story than that of Trayvon Martin and seemingly less interest in her story than in Jonathan Ferrell, a former college football player shot to death by a police officer in North Carolina after surviving a car accident and seeking help.
Some of the lack of interest may be pure disaster fatigue, which is sure to be hitting black people pretty hard these days after so many tragedies against our youth.
It’s also because McBride’s story doesn’t fit our usual description of black person targeted by white person. Black male privilege has effectively hijacked black women’s claims to profiling. How many of us routinely say and believe that black men are more of “a threat” than black women? We’ve been told that and we believe that, so stories like that of Martin and Ferrell fall right in line.
McBride was just as much a victim of violent racial profiling that sees her as criminal and harmful as any young black male. Family members said she died in a neighborhood that is predominantly white.
But even if the black community as a whole isn’t going to come out for McBride, fellow black women should. Our lives and livelihood are just as tenuously held as those of black men in this hostile America, always ready and waiting with legally obtained weapons to “protect” itself and its property.
Her family described her as hard-working and soft-spoken, both nice adjectives but ultimately her personality shouldn’t matter at all—she was a human being, deserving of humanity and safety in all places and neighborhoods, just like anyone else.
I don’t have a game plan or course of action for how we black women can keep ourselves and our families safe. I don’t think anyone does. At least, though, we can be aware of what’s happening to us and not allow patriarchal pillars in our communities to dictate the conversation on who’s affected by racism and who’s not.