#SayHerName: The Women of the Witness Quilt

“We are all connected.
If we are not really invested in helping each other, there is no hope for us.
It’s about how our lives are all limited
without having deep conversations and interactions with one another.”
~ Melissa Blount

Women starting new lives in a new home or trying to get away from abuse. Young sisters killed by arson. Stray bullets hitting innocents at a wake. A baby left in the care of the wrong person. A woman walking her child in a park. The daughter of a police officer. The cousin of a basketball star. An accidental shooting.

Families are devastated because these women and children were in the line of fire, many through no provocation of their own.

The local news outlets have homicide trackers and timelines of how many people are killed on any given day in Chicago. It gets shrugged off as people being in the wrong place at the wrong time, that presumably they were walking around late at night, that somehow this was provoked. 

But in reviewing these stories, placing blame on the victim is utterly inappropriate. Melissa Blount, instigator of the Black Lives Matter Witness Quilt, gave me a list of the women on the quilt, with five more added since the quilt was completed. 

4 babies (some of whom lost their mothers in utero); 12 girls age 19 and under; 20 age 25 and under; 7 in their late 20s; 12 in their 30s; 3 in their 40s; 3 between 52 and 54 years old. These women and girls should be living out their lives. They are not statistics. They are human beings who loved, who lived, who danced, who had aspirations. Say their names. Click on the links and look at their faces.

  1. Sakinah Reed, 17, shot while standing on a corner
  2. Latania Anderson, 25, attempted peacemaking
  3. Tiana Brown, 20 , accidental shooting
  4. Shari Graham, 30, was sitting in a cab
  5. Daysha Wright, 21, was riding in a car
  6. Dejenaba A. Altman, 43, standing near an Elementary School  
  7. Babette Miller, 35, had just filed an abuse report
  8. Tiara M. Parks, 23, was getting out of a car 
  9. Kiara Kinard, 26, killed at home
  10. Makeesha Starks, 26, killed at home
  11. De’Kayla Dansberry, 16, stabbed 
  12. Camille C. Cooley, 36, murdered 
  13. Yvonne Nelson, 49, errant gunfire near Starbucks 
  14. Pamela Johnson, 32, struck by car while fleeing a robbery 
  15. Jessica Hampton, 25, stabbed on CTA red line 
  16. Chanda Foreman, 37, killed on her birthday 
  17. Shameka Heard 33, stabbed
  18. Katana (Greenlee) Hornbuckle, 2 months, child abuse by babysitter
  19. Africa Bass, 23, shot in front of her new home 
  20. Jessica Williams, 16, asthma attack after witnessing fatal shootings 
  21. Kayana Q. Armond, 33, shot at a memorial party 
  22. Madison Watson, 4, killed in arson fire of multi-unit building
  23. Melanie Watson, 3 months,killed in arson fire of multi-unit building
  24. Shaniyah Staples, 7, killed in arson fire of multi-unit building
  25. Tykina Ali, 20, killed while riding in a car 
  26. Nykea Aldridge,  32, killed while pushing her baby in a stroller 
  27. Othijah (Otha) M. Mooney, 35, killed at home 
  28. KeeKee Fleming 18, killed while attending a vigil 
  29. T.T. Saffore, 28, murdered
  30. Parasha M. Beard, 19, 8-months pregnant was sitting in a parked car 
  31. Adrianna Mayes, 21, killed in errant crossfire while holding her baby  
  32. Julia Martin, 28, stabbed after returning engagement ring 
  33. Marilyn Duffie 21, shot by roommate 
  34. Chiquita Ford, 30, shot while sitting in a car
  35. Emoni House, 20, killed at home with her brother 
  36. Cynthia Richardson, 54, shot on her front lawn 
  37. Nateyah Yahah Hines, 19, killed in attempted robbery 
  38. Shacora Jackson, 40, killed in attempted robbery (Nateyah’s mom)
  39. Sylvia Brice, 52, stabbed after attempting to move out on New Year’s Eve

2017

  1. Precious Land, 27, died after being paralyzed from a gunshot would 7 months prior 
  2. Jamayah Fields, 20, shot near an elementary school 
  3. Takiya Holmes 11, hit by stray bullet while running errands with family 
  4. Tenisha Mallet, 21, shot while in a group
  5. Kanari Gentry Bowers 12, shot while playing basketball at a school
  6. Tiara Richmond (KeKe Collier), 24, murdered 
  7. Wilteeah Jones, 20, shot in a parked car
  8. A’Miracle Jones, 5 months, Parasha M Beard’s baby died of prematurity 
  9. Janylah Mack, 4 months, born prematurely after her mom was abused
  10. Diamond Turner, 21, strangled 
  11. Tanisha Jackson, 30, shot during an argument 
  12. Patrice Calvin, 26, shot at home
  13. Dominque Victoria Scott, 23, shot while riding in a van
  14. Jacquetta Pearson, 22, shot while sitting in car
  15. Brittany Leflore, 22, killed while on her way home
  16. Tatyanna Lewis, 18, rammed into by a car 
  17. Naisha Weems, 27, struck by a car 
  18. Tashika Manuel-Dunbar, 35, shot while walking to her car
  19. Tina Brown, 53, shot in her home 
  20. Chastity Johnson, 18, shot while walking 
  21. Tiara Goodman, 25, murder-suicide
  22. Shantae Nevith, 22, shot 

I used the Sun Times link most often since this one systematically has photos of each victim. A google search will tell you more about each individual. These are our sisters.

Per Wikipedia: “#SayHerName is a social movement that seeks to raise awareness for black female victims of police brutality and anti-Black violence in the United States. #SayHerName aims to change the public perception that victims of police brutality and anti-Black violence are predominantly male by highlighting the gender-specific ways in which black women, particularly black queer women and black transgender women, are disproportionately affected by fatal acts of racial injustice. In an effort to create a large social media presence alongside existing racial justice campaigns, such as #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackGirlsMatter, the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) coined the hashtag #SayHerName in February 2015.

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