On The Criminal Justice System And Its Biases Against Black Women And Girls

Black girls and women are more likely than any other group of people in America to become victims of sexual violence, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Another crushing reality is the vast majority of sexual assault victims don’t see their offenders brought to justice in a court of law. It’s even harder for Black girls and women to get the justice they deserve. There’s a crucial reason for this: Black girls and women are not believed in court.

During my legal career, I’ve served as a public defender and private defense lawyer. I’ve represented clients in criminal matters including murders, rapes, high volume drug cases, sex crimes, and federal offenses. What I’m going to lay out here may be disheartening, but one of the most important aspects in any trial is believability. The judge or jury’s ability to believe one side versus the other is often the determining factor between a guilty or not guilty verdict. In the law, we use the term believability interchangeably with the term credibility. As for Black women and girls, believability and credibility are not assigned to us the way it is for others. This may sound anecdotal, but research proves it.

Read more at Essence. 

Watch The OverExplainer Break Down What It Actually Means To “Protect Black Girls”

Protect Black Girls has been a rallying cry recently and yes it’s a beautiful thing to see society rally around a group who is typically thought of in negative stereotypes or not at all. There’s even a petition for the internet to pledge protection for Black girls. But what does that actually mean?

Learn more at Essence. 

On R. Kelly and How We Fail Black Girls

Earlier this month, two million viewers tuned in for the premiere of Lifetime’s six-part documentary series, “Surviving R. Kelly”. The docuseries chronicled the R&B musician’s reported legacy of alleged abuse, predatory behavior and child pornography charges throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. Episodes prominently featured the testimony of R. Kelly’s victims, as well as clinical specialists and activists like #MeToo founder Tarana Burke. Among this wide swath of voices, a common observation was situated at the center of nearly every interview. Survivors and commentators alike remarked that Black women and girls aren’t seen as victims in situations of sexual violence as a result of societal misogynoir. This documentary reveals a disturbing pattern of racist institutional failings endemic to the American criminal-legal system—failures only further complicated by the state violence that Black citizens routinely face from the same law enforcement officials that claim to protect the public from abusers like R. Kelly.

Read more at the Duke Chronicle 

The Case of the Missing Girl

Three months ago, a couple from rural Wisconsin, James and Denise Closs, were found shot dead in their home. That same night, their 13-year-old daughter, Jayme Closs, disappeared.

Jayme, thankfully, was found alive on Thursday night. Her reappearance was one of the biggest news stories of the week, trending on Twitter, and even outperforming some of our coverage of the government shutdown.

That outsize attention became a racial flash point on social media.

Read more at the New York Times’ Race/Related newsletter

Who Cares About Little Black Girls?

“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”

So said Malcolm X in 1962. And in the decades since, those words have continued to resonate: a rallying cry for black women who felt sidelined in the fight for civil rights, ignored during the feminist awakening and discounted even as their protests against police violence have earned that movement new attention.

But it’s a new year. And three episodes in the first week of 2019 have given black women ample reason to consider whether anything has changed.

Read more at the Houston Chronicle

Two Native women in Congress isn’t enough to end the systemic violence Native girls face

A shifting power balance on the Capitol — including the first two Native women elected to the House — might change the political landscape for disenfranchised indigenous communities. For now, though, Washington remains gridlocked and native communities persevere as sites of resistance, struggling on their own for another generation’s survival.

For a Native American girl growing up in Trump’s America today, there seem to be more paths to an early death than to a positive future. While the White House crusades to restore the nation to its supposed past greatness, the lost lives in Indian Country speak to how our history is still lived differently by the land’s first inhabitants.

A new report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a federal advisory body on discrimination issues, traces the depth of inequality and deprivation faced by native communities. Indigenous women and girls are often exposed to poverty and violence more than any other group of women and girls in America, burdened by historical discrimination and structural segregation of their communities.

Read more at NBC

Nebraska Native American girl: I am expected to stay quiet

If I asked you to tell me about yourself, about who you are, what would you tell me? Would you tell me the color of your hair, your favorite song, your hobbies, who raised you, what town you grew up in, the schools you went to, your profession? Or would you tell me about the god you pray to, the language your grandparents spoke, the holidays you celebrate, your country of origin, the color of your skin? Would you tell me who you truly are? Let me tell you who I truly am.

Wiragųšge Šibre Wįga hįgaire ną. They call me Shooting Star. That is my Winnebago Ho-Chunk Indian name. My English name is Daunnette Moniz-Reyome. I am 15 years old, I live on the Umonhon Indian Reservation, and I am enrolled in the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. I come from the Bear Clan, the Peacemakers of the tribe. I have grown up everywhere — except my tribe’s reservation. I know what society expects of me, but I refuse to limit myself to those expectations.

I am expected to stay quiet and listen. (“Don’t say anything; the adults are speaking.”)

Read more at Norfolk Daily News 

Native American Women Are Disappearing. Why Is Nothing Being Done?

Native American women and girls are vanishing across the county. Just last year, the FBI reported 633 open missing persons cases for Native American women. According to statistics, they are also 10 times more likely to be murdered than non-Native Americans. The families of victims say their communities are outraged, but law enforcement isn’t taking action. Matter of Fact Correspondent Leone Lakhani tells some of their stories.

Learn more at WBPF. 

The girl who died in Border Patrol custody was healthy before she arrived, father says

The 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in U.S. Border Patrol custody was healthy before she arrived, and her family is now calling for an “objective and thorough” investigation into her death, a representative for the family said Saturday.

In a statement, the family’s attorneys disputed reports that the girl, Jakelin Caal, went several days without food and water before crossing the border, which contradicts statements by the Department of Homeland Security. Ruben Garcia, founder and executive director of Annunciation House — an El Paso-based nonprofit that aids migrants — said that the girl’s father, 29-year-old Nery Caal, said she was healthy and had no preexisting conditions.

“He’s been very clear, very consistent that his daughter was healthy, and his daughter very much wanted to come with him,” Garcia said during the news conference.

Read more at The Washington Post

Smashing the patriarchy: leading and learning from girl activists

It is so often in this world that decisions are made about girls without their input, from who they marry to whether they receive an education, to what does and doesn’t happen to their bodies. Last month With and For Girls brought together 12 activists from Kenya, Guatemala, Palestine, Nicaragua, Poland, Barbados, Israel, Romania, USA and Nepal to put on a closing plenary at the Human Rights Funders Network conference in Mexico City.
Girls all around the world are leading human rights movements toward a safer and more equal world. They work tirelessly and are under-recognised, under-estimated and underfunded.

Watch a video of this convening here