By Teresa Younger •
Content warning: Mentions of sexual violence and murder.
According to PEW Research Center, 235 Black people were shot to death by the police in 2019. The social movement against systemic racism and police violence continued in 2020, when believers around the world turned out following the May 25th Police killing of George Floyd, despite the global pandemic. The movement for Black liberation can be traced back several generations, where believers from every generation grow up to stake a claim in the fight for Black liberation.
Oluwatoyin Salau was a 19-year-old Black girl. She was a survivor, a believer who fought for everyone, and centered the liberation of Black women, Black queer lives and Black transgender lives. She is posthumously known as a Black Lives Matter activist who fought for Tony McDade, a Black transgender man who was murdered by the police in Tallahassee FL. Salau’s life was taken in the line of duty in the struggle, fighting for Black liberation. She was not murdered by the police. A Black man kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered Salau and Victoria Sims, a 75-year-old activist and AARP volunteer she befriended.
“It’s not that all lives don’t matter, but right now, our lives matter. Black lives matter. Black trans lives matter! Trans lives matter! Because guess what? We are all minorities…Tony McDade was a Black trans man. We’re doing for him. We’re doing this for our brothers, our sisters, who got shot, but we’re doing this for every Black person, because at the end of the day I cannot take my f*cking skin color off.” – Oluwatoyin Salau
Black women and girls who are missing, sexually assaulted and murdered, and must be protected by our communities the same way we protect Black cis men. Oluwatoyin Salau’s life mattered. Black girls’ lives matter. Protect the Black women and girls who are your daughters, your friends, your sisters, and your cousins. They must be protected at all costs before misogynoir takes their lives. This is a calling to go beyond Saying Her Name, and to protect and center the lives of survivors, Black queer people, the lives of Black trans people while they’re alive.
“We have to be willing to bear witness, to bear witness to the often painful realities that we would just rather not confront, the everyday violence and humiliation that many black women have had to face, black women across color, age, gender expression, sexuality and ability.” – Kimberle Crenshaw
Teresa Younger is an educator who enjoys history, writing, gardening, and loves being a part of a vibrant community. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UVA and her Master’s degree in education from USC, and has been living in Virginia since 2003 with her husband and her daughter.