On March 16, 2014, military police in Rio de Janeiro shot and severely wounded Cláudia Ferreira da Silva near her home while she was on the way to buy cold cuts and bread. The police officers were in a gunfight with alleged drug traffickers, and they shot her twice – "stray bullets." Although she was already severely wounded, the police waited until the fight was over to put her in the hatchback trunk of the police car to take her to the hospital. Then, on the way to the hospital, she fell out of the trunk, but they did not stop the car. The officers continued to drag her behind the police car for 250 meters until they reached a red light, where they stuffed her limp body back inside.
As black women, ours is often the flesh that the state uses to fertilize the nation; consolidate its power. On the pretenses of public safety, they invade our neighborhoods and our homes, pull us out and kill us, spilling our blood into the pavement. I am tired of them dragging us limp and lifeless through the streets on alleged missions to save us. They grind us into the road oblivious to our life's worth and impervious to the unspeakable pain that they inflict on our children, our partners, and the loved ones we leave behind. Violence against black women is a global, communal, generational violence. As a black woman I am painfully aware that anywhere and almost everywhere I go I am a target for white supremacist heteropatriarchy, and it is often the state that exacts this violence. Our bodies are always marked as violable. Yet oftentimes in our discussions of state violence, we neglect to account for the fact that black women are always the intended targets of anti-black state terror, even when the ones who are killed are black men.
Smith goes on to complete a profound destruction of how class, race, and gender factored into the killing of Ferriera, and how nationalism factored into the ignorance toward this story shown many individuals, by including a significant amount of feminists of color.
I think about Cláudia Ferreira da Silva along with the 200+ Nigerian girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram, and wonder why is it that we are so desensitized to the violation and deaths of Black and Brown women? Many people, including myself in regards to the Cláudia Ferreira da Silva case, were not aware of such tragedies. While I believe that a significant amount of the ignorance towards Cláudia Ferreira da Silva and the Boko Haram kidnapping was due to Western bias, I also believe that the apathy towards stories like these are due to the victims being Black and Brown women. The Westgate Shopping Mall Attack in Kenya received ample amount of coverage by many of the mainstream news outlets, but not until an outcry occurred via social media and other outlets did coverage of the Nigerian School Girls reach adequate levels. The Westgate Mall Attack included victims both male and female (with some Americans injured), while the all of the victims in the Boko Haram attack were Black girls.
Black and Brown women are othered, we are demonized, we are sullied, we are dirtied, we are deemed as whores just for existing, we are considered as angry, as evil, as ghetto, as just plain bad. Our race deems us apt for isolation and oppression by social structures, while our gender makes men of our own race turn a blind eye to our pain, or be a contributor to our plight themselves. The devaluation of Black and Brown women must stop.