Our diversity column over the years has
tried to highlight the achievements of great
women from many walks of life and many
backgrounds. There has been an understandable
focus on the high achievers, the role models to all
of us. With AAUW‘s focus on equity for women
and girls we have always wanted to speak of those who have
shown exceptional achievement, often in the face of great
adversity or challenge.
This month I am taking a different tack. I’ll be talking
about someone who could be your neighbor, the girl nextdoor. AAUW supports the achievement of women from every
socio- economic and cultural background. Breonna Taylor was
trying to achieve the American dream. Trained as an EMT, she
moved on to be a hospital emergency room technician. Her
dream was to be a nurse. She was living in an apartment with
Breonna died during the serving
of a no-knock warrant at her apartment
on March 13 of this year. The warrant was
issued because it was thought that drugs
and or cash, associated with drug dealing,
would be found. No drugs and/or cash
were found. Briefly, after Breonna and
her boyfriend had fallen asleep watching a movie, the warrant
was served. When police broke down her door, her boyfriend
fired a single shot, thinking there was a home invasion in
progress. An officer was hit. Breonna was killed in the officers’
return fire. The complete story can be found in many
newspaper articles and in a Wikipedia article.
I will not fill this column with the full tragic story.
What I want to do is emphasize the fact that people walk
different roads in life. In the commentaries after Breonna
Taylor’s tragic death there were those who wanted to blame
her for having an ex-boyfriend who had been alleged to be
involved in drug trafficking. Though Breonna and her current
boyfriend had no criminal history, no drug involvement people
sought to condemn her because of the alleged behavior of an
ex-boyfriend. Protests irrupted in Louisville, Kentucky when the
full story was learned.
Her current boyfriend carried a gun legally. All charges
against him were dropped though an officer was wounded as
he attempted to defend the couple in the face of what they felt
was a violent home invasion.
The family of Breonna Taylor was awarded 12 million
dollars by the City of Louisville, KY. The city of Louisville agreed
to institute changes to help prevent future deaths of this sort.
Later a grand jury met and protests again erupted when
criminal charges against the officers involved were seen as
falling short of what some in the community thought was just.
The above summary in no way is meant to totally
describe the tragedy of Breonna Taylor’s death. It’s meant
to make us think about the different lives lived by women
who are trying to improve themselves, get on with their life
and succeed. It is meant to help us think about different
challenges women face. Women can be endangered by the
decisions of ex-boyfriends. Some communities are more
likely to be impacted by no knock warrants. Can you
imagine such a warrant being served on your home or the
home of someone you love?
In sum, we mourn Breonna Taylor. We mourn a
world in which women are endangered by the acts of ex-boyfriends, ex-spouses and family members. This story is
meant to help us think through the lives of others. Could
this be our child? Could this be someone we know and care
about? Let us care about Breonna and everyone who is ever
endangered in the way she was: by association. Let us feel
for the pain of her family and the terror Breonna must have
felt in the moments before her death. Let us have empathy
for those like all of us. Let us have empathy for all human
Fondly submitted for the Diversity Committee, Be safe and well.