Misogynoir And Why All Black Lives Matter

(L-R): Oluwatoyin Salau, Breonna Taylor, Domonique Fells, Riah Milton and Iyanna Dior

Rashawn Raysor/Staff Writer

It is said that those closest to you can inflict the most pain and suffering. Oluwatoyin Salau’s tragic death reminds us of this.   

Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau was a 19-year-old Nigerian-American activist who was heavily involved in the George Floyd protests. She was also one of the few people advocating for Tony McDade, a Black trans man who was murdered by police. 

Toyin went missing in Florida on June 6, shortly after she tweeted about having been sexually assaulted. On June 13, her body was found in Tallahassee next to a 75-year-old volunteer. The suspect who was arrested by police was a black man in his 40s. 

This burns my soul.

On June 8, Dominique “Remmie” Fells, a Black trans woman, was found in a river with her body dismembered. The same day, Riah Milton, also Black Trans woman, was lured into and murdered by Black men. This too, burns my soul.

A week prior, yet another Black Trans woman named Iyanna Dior was viciously beaten by a group of Black men. This makes my blood boil.

These recent events have just reminded just how little America cares for Black women. Black women have always been put at the further margins of society, and Black Trans women even more so.  

It is the names of Black men that are so often immortalized into the American consciousness. The stories and lives of Black women are often met with much less outrage.

For what reason does the killer of Breonna Taylor walk free while all of George Floyd’s killers have been arrested, other than misogynoir?

Maybe it’s because the brutality of her death wasn’t captured on video and widely circulated online? Maybe because it is those in power and are always slow to make meaningful change? Or maybe it’s because America simply doesn’t care.

So often they are victims of violence, but their stories are seldom ever told. The stories of cishet Black men are the face of the movement for Black lives. It is Black men who draw our tears more. It is the names of Black men that are so often immortalized into the American consciousness.

The stories and lives of Black women are often met with much less outrage. The same level of resources are not spent on getting the same kind of justice for these women.

I myself am not even exempt from this. 

I find that I more easily remember the names of so many Black men that have been brutally murdered by Police. I can name Philando, Trayvon, Tamir, Ahmaud, George, Mike, Rodney and so many others. Yet I struggle to keep in my memory all the black women—cis and trans—who’ve been victims of police brutality.

I’m ashamed of myself, my community and my society. I’m ashamed because Toyin’s death is my fault and the fault of my entire community. The deaths of Dominique and Riah and so many others are all of our faults.

To borrow the words of writer Clarkisha Kent, “[Toyin] was failed by all the people, all the places and all the entities that were supposed to protect her.”

I fully agree with Clarkisha. As a Black man I failed her. As a movement we’ve failed her and others like her. We’ve ended up repeating some of the worst mistakes of our predecessors from the Civil Rights Movement. By centering an extremely cisgender and heterosexual form of the Black male experience they ignored Black women and Black queer people.

Despite the countless contributions they made in the fight for Black civil rights, their rights were put to the wayside. 

We’re supposed to be better than those that came before us. We were supposed to do that which our ancestors couldn’t. Yet here we are. We’re still ostracizing our own. We’re still refusing to properly defend those who show up at every single protest when a Black man is slain. We’re still attacking our own because they choose to proudly be who they know themselves to be. 

The marginalized marginalizing others… it’s nothing but pure madness.

I can’t in good conscience continue to fully support the movement anymore. Please do not misinterpret my words. I, of course, will always support my Black people and the struggle for equal rights. I will always fight for equality, human rights and the end of racism. But Black lives simply can’t matter until all Black lives matter. 

After all, there’d be no March on Washington and no Alabama Bus Boycott, without Bayard Rustin. The Black Panther Party wouldn’t be the same without fierce female Black Panthers.

The Black Radical tradition itself wouldn’t be the same without Black women and Black queer people. It wouldn’t be the same without the likes of Audre Lorde, Angela Davis or Marsha P. Johnson. 

It certainly isn’t the same without dear Toyin. She deserved better. All Black women deserve better. Their lives matter.  


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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