Breonna Taylor: Say her name

Lavette Williams, Editor-in-Chief

Breonna Taylor. Protesters from all around the world have marched, pushing to give her the justice she deserves. They have chanted her name with fervor, with anguish, with fury. Say her name. Say it.

Taylor was only 26 years old when her home was raided by Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) and she was fatally shot. She was an African American woman, an Emergency Medical Technician, a daughter, a sister, but most importantly, like everyone else, she was human … an American. But, somehow her rights as a citizen were forgotten when she was given a no-knock search warrant, held at gunpoint and stripped of her life.

“Breonna Taylor’s murder showed me America’s perspective on black women,” said Renae Dana, 32, activist. “Breonna looks like me, my mother, my sisters and my friends. She represents us and the treatment we have accepted over the years.”

Dana said Taylor was made to be the villain by some, but she was the victim.

“They tried to get dirt on her and they could not,” Dana said. “So, they lied and spread rumors about her. She is dead and no one in the judicial systems seems to care. All they care about is the property that the officers destroyed. This is why we [continue to] say our life matters because it seems to not matter when it comes to us surviving in America.”

Similar to death of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who was forcibly detained by the police, Taylor’s death revolutionized the Black Lives Matter movement. Not only did it do this, but it also reminded the world of how vulnerable and disregarded black women are.

The police officers who murdered Floyd were charged with man-slaughter and murder, and Floyd was laid to rest in his home town in Houston, Texas alongside his mother.

But where is Taylor’s justice? 

Taylor, although already laid to rest, has yet to receive the peace she merits. Even though she was killed two months before Floyd, only one of three LMPD officers was indicted. Unlike the officers responsible for Floyd, this now former officer was charged with only wanton endangerment for supposedly endangering Taylor’s neighbors.     

Many ask, “How is this fair? How is the fear that the officer may have invoked in Taylor’s neighbors worth more the loss of a human life?” To answer both, it is not.

Dana believes that the officers are not and will not be held accountable for their actions because of this false perception that society has of black women.

“By not prosecuting these men it shows us how little we matter in a country that our ancestors built on the strength of their backs,” Dana said. “No one that is in the position of power will step forward and do what needs to be done.”

Dana said the officers should be in prison, not living their lives like nothing happened. She said that Breonna, a daughter, a sister, a first responder, was loved by many.

If someone disagrees with this, Dana challenges them to answer the following questions: “Why is it okay for a black woman to be killed as she lay sleeping? Why is it okay for the officers to not announce themselves before they forcibly came into her home? Why is it okay for them to pursue charges against her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker? Why is it okay for the state to ask Kenneth to name Breonna as a co-conspirator for lesser charges?”

“As a human being, none of this should be okay with you,” Dana said. “There is no reason why she laid bleeding, dying and struggling to breathe, but no aid was administered by the same three officers that shot and killed her. How is her dying justifiable?”

While Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker was with her on the night she was murdered, he was there because the two were living together. Allegedly, Walker opened fired with the officer who shot and killed Taylor as they were intruding on his property.

“Kenneth Walker is being charged with attempted murder, but not one soul is charged for the death of Breonna Taylor,” Dana said. “I do not agree with anyone who continuously justifies unarmed black people being killed by the police. They tell us to respect police officers and this would not happen, but as we seen in 2016 with Philando Castile that it’s not true. Smarting off to an officer does not justify losing your life. If they fear our skin what else should we do? These same people were more upset about buildings being burned than George Floyd’s death. These same people tell us all lives matter, but don’t want us to say our life matters.”

Dana said that black lives do matter and that they will not be silenced by commentators who has not lived or walked in our shoes.

“This is not complaining,” Dana said. “This is calling attention to a system that is built on modern day enslavement. No officer has the right to decide if we live or die. Racism does exist and we are [constantly] fighting against it. I believe all charges should be dropped against Kenneth. I also believe that giving black people a check and wishing this would go away will not work. Black women should be protected.”

Dana is a resident of Florence, Alabama and a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Dana started her podcast “Renae’s Sip & Chat” to focus on social injustice, racism, mental health, domestic violence and sexual assault.

She said by creating this podcast, she wants to be able to help everyone because these are all the things she has dealt with herself. In doing this, she wants them to know they are not alone and that life can get better.

Dana’s most recent episodes are about black women not being protected and sharing the stories of black women who no longer have voices; however for Domestic Violence Awareness month, she will do a series on that. Not only does she do this, but Dana also gives resources for people who need help.

Dana said she wants her podcast to be a place to talk about anything.

“My very first episode was about “Thousands of Missing Native American Women + Women of Color Missing in Washington,’” Dana said. “I am working on part two of that episode to give more detail about the cases. I want to make [this] into a series. I [will also be] speaking with Wesley Thompson, [who] is on the board of directors of the NAACP. We [will be] speaking about racism, protesting the president and Breonna Taylor.”

“Renae’s Sip & Chat” currently has 281 total likes on Facebook with a total of 288 followers and is out on all platforms, including Spotify, Google Podcast and YouTube. Dana hopes to pursue a career out of her podcast as she enjoys doing research, having guest and editing episodes.

With all these topics in mind, Dana still wants her podcast to be the voice for women who no longer have one.

Since the indictment of one of three of Taylor’s killers, the protests and rallies have done anything but simmer down. Instead, it has caused even more disarray.

“If we don’t continue to speak up and expose racism then we conform to it,” Dana said. “We will never forget about Breonna or her family.”

Dana does not want to think that Taylor had to die for people to realize that these officers have no accountability for their actions because every week there is someone of color being assaulted or killed by the police. She said that there is no reason to why we have to keep dying for the world to say ‘okay, there is a problem.’

“Breonna Taylor has left her mark on this world,” Dana said. “Her life was not in vain. Her legacy will be seen in her sister, mother and the eyes of every black woman that thinks they don’t matter.”

Say her name. Say it.