Details have emerged that 22-year-old Tiarah Poyau, who was gunned down during this past weekend’s West Indian Day Parade in New York, told her murderer “get off me” before the fatal shots were fired which claimed her life. The gunman, 20-year-old Reginald Moise, was taken into police custody and charged with second-degree murder, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment. He reportedly told a friend, “I think I shot somebody on the parade route. I didn’t know the gun was loaded” and later asked his girlfriend to stash the gun at her house, where it was found by police.
Whether or not he knew he gun was loaded, this young man pulled out a gun on a young woman for merely requesting her personal space be respected. And by now, we, as a society– as a community– should be ready to collectively say enough is enough. The sick twisted culture which victimizes women and tells men that they are entitled to women’s time and bodies must quickly be stopped. Or we risk losing more young women, like Tiarah Poyau, to it.
Etched into the Black community’s history is another statistic. Another Black woman murdered by a Black man. According to a Violence Police Center Report, in 2010, “499 black females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender homicides. Black females were murdered at a rate nearly two and a half times higher than white females: 2.59 per 100,000 versus 1.06 per 100,000.”
And even more specifically, another Black woman murdered by a Black man with a gun. According to that same report, “Firearms–especially handguns–were the most common weapon used by males to murder black females in 2010. For the 451 homicides where the murder weapon could be identified, 53 percent of black female victims (237 victims) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 76 percent (179 of 237) were killed with a handgun.”
This is the worst case scenario for an end to a story that begins with hyper-masculinity. The story where man, who has easy access to a gun, kills a woman for shutting down his advances. However, it is not a singular tragic example that should be cast aside as some sort of anomaly. Black male violence against Black women is a real and ongoing problem. Mary “Unique” Spears was gunned down in front of her family and boyfriend after rejecting the advances of a man in a club. 22-year-old Lakeeya Walker was attacked by Darryl Guillyard after not thanking him when he held a door open for her. He threw hot coffee in her face, punched her repeatedly in the stomach while yelling at her to “suck his dick” and threatening to “kick that baby out of your womb.” Parish Sashay, a 23-year-old comedian was violently shoved to the ground and loss consciousness, after rejecting the advances of a group of men. Janese Talton-Jackson was shot and killed by Charles McKinney after she rejected his advances at a bar.
And the examples are never-ending.
Even I personally witnessed this kind of violence as a child. While walking with my cousin when I was 10-years-old, who is about 12 years my senior, a group of men tried to catcall her and get her attention. When she completely ignored them, one of the men started throwing beer bottles at her, missing us by only a couple of feet with every launch.
Many try to argue that Black women and men who openly condemn and speak out against this violence are fueling a “boogey man” narrative to demean Black men, but they do not understand that there is a Black man who is, indeed, the boogey man a Black woman fears. Some men try to argue “well, other races do it too”, as if that changes the reality that most Black women are victimized by other Black men. Yeah, patriarchy, sexism, misogyny and misogynoir are all colorblind.
But we see, just fine, the color of the men who are victimizing Black women.
The tragic news that Tiarah Poyau was murdered by a Black man with a gun who had no respect for her body or personal space is a wake up call for Black men and women to unite against violence against Black female bodies. This is a matter of gun control– ridding Black neighborhoods of the firearms that have made our communities war zones. However, it is also a matter of addressing the chauvinistic, hyper-masculine male culture that have put targets on the backs of Black women.