By Christina Coleman
Special to the NNPA via The Chicago Defender
(NNPA) — The conversation surrounding police brutality in Black communities often excludes women of color, despite their very imperative role, and in many cases, the sacrifices they make.
While Michael Brown Jr., Eric Garner,Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray have all become symbols of state violence against marginalized communities, names like Rekia Boyd, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tanesha Anderson, and Natasha McKenna are less known, although they also died at the hands of law enforcement.
But women aren’t important to the movement just because they too face the same horrors — women have created and sustained what has become the largest Black liberation movement in recent years as well. In fact, three Black women, two of whom identify as queer, founded Black Lives Matter.
NewsOne traveled to Baltimore, Md. in the wake of Gray’s death to talk to community leaders and women on the ground about how young girls in the community are coping and dealing with the traumas of state violence and Baltimore’s recent uprising.
“It is very different, a lot of females seem to try to attempt to carry the burden,” Anitra Washington, an educator at the all-girls Western High School told NewsOne.
“It’s a bit of a heavier burden because they don’t know what to do…they are watching someone else be impacted. Their thoughts were ‘how do they fix things…how do I make things better for my father, how do I tell my brother how to deal with the police?’”
And while girls are facing the same issues, Washington said many tend to focus on how to help the men in their lives — a burden that becomes too much for many young women to handle.
“Lots of the young women that I’ve dealt with, their fear is that they won’t be able to assist their male counterparts,” she said.
Resident Rolanda Chambers, accompanied by friend Linnyette Richardson-Hall as they distributed food to the community during Baltimore’s unrest, told NewsOne that faith is another way to cope with the recent incident, adding that helping the community in any way uplifts both men and women.
“We just wanted to do more than just pray, just march, just protest,” she said.
In just two days, she and Richardson-Hall passed out 400 meals to protesters demonstrating in the name of Gray.
Check out NewsOne’s exclusive video above to see how women in the community are helping the movement.