January 21, 2015

Zine: Black Women Matter

While mainstream media silences Black lives and experiences, zines lift them up. 

In a grounding and open way, Black Women Matter exposes the untold and forgotten stories of black women killed by police officers. This raw subject matter is handled with honesty, respect and care. The zine covers eleven black women’s stories of how they were killed by law enforcement and whether the officer was reprimanded. It offers a haunting yet tactile reminder of the neglect of these narratives, but also the unique intersection that black women (and women of color in general) stand at. In highlighting that there is an extreme lack of recognizing the killing of black women in the media and in society in general, the zine does not downplay the seriousness and significance but rather acknowledges it and points out that more than one dialogue can and needs to happen.

In the beginning of the zine there is a quote from Audre Lorde stating, “I am a Black Feminist. I mean I recognize that my power as well as my primary oppressions come as result of my blackness as well as my womaness, and therefore my struggles on both of these fronts are inseparable.” This smoothly introduces the reader to the intersection of gender and race; they do not stand alone but equally contribute to the erasure of black women’s narratives.

The zine format has a portrait of each of the eleven women that is accompanied by a brief summary of how they were killed. Their ages range from seven to ninety-three.  Many women in the zine were killed in their homes and one woman, Shulena S. Weldon, was run over by a police SUV. The variety of age emphasizes the vulnerability of an entire group of people, dispelling the myth that this police brutality only affects men and those who are committing crimes. The women also lived in a variety of states, including but not limited to Texas, Ohio, Michigan and California. The array of locations underlines the nationwide effect of over-policing specific bodies coupled with brutality. 

Black Women Matter is a reminder of how the zine medium is used as a tool for change and to spread information. The zine also reminds the reader of the control and freedom the medium provides by writing, publishing and spreading the stories that few other media outlets will. By presenting the narratives of eleven black women’s deaths in a simple and accessible format, Black Women Matter is an example of intersectional feminism and aids in bringing social change. 

Read the full issue here.

Judith Jones is a writer, blogger and angry intersectional feminist from the South. When she is not reading feminist theory, making zines or eating donuts she can be found on Twitter and Tumblr.