Say Her $12 Million Dollar Name!

Breonna Taylor

On September 15th, the family of Breonna Taylor was awarded a twelve million dollar out-of-court settlement from the city of Louisville. Breonna Taylor had been shot and killed by police while she was sleeping in her own bed in her own home. To date, none of the policemen involved in the shooting have been arrested, which happened in March. It is now six months later.

This is said to be the highest out-of-court settlement amount paid for the life of a black woman ever. In fact, some say that it is the highest amount paid for a black life, period - male or female. How did black female life become so worthless? There was a time when top dollar was paid for black female slave bodies on the auction block, because of the babies she could produce generating more profits for her owner. Then we reached the point in American society where black women were seen as maids or prostitutes and nothing more. Whites enjoyed the illusion of seeing black women as being so impoverished that they could easily afford to "buy" their services. Of course they had no rights or recourse of they were abused or raped by their employers or clients.

Today black women are on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19 as nurses, hospital workers, cleaners, etc. Their work is essential, but it is thought that policemen can get away with killing us with impunity. What is the source of this lack of regard for black female life?

When I was engaged to perform as a piano soloist with orchestras in this country, I'm sure I was paid bottom dollar for those performances. I had always thought that the issue for me was a lack of protection, or not having an advocate. I had never felt protected by a father or brother, and I'm sure that any white person who dealt with me could sense my vulnerability. I wonder if other black women feel the same way.

All of the protesters in Kentucky have seen to it that Breonna Taylor's name is not forgotten, and continue to demand the arrest of the officers who murdered her. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of our time at the bottom of the societal totem pole. It is an outrage that those killers are still walking free. One of them has had sexual abuse charges filed against him. These men are free when countless numbers of black men are incarcerated for possessing marijuana, or other such non-violent offences. There will be no peace for Breonna's family until those officers are arrested.

Meanwhile, I need to set out to learn how to feel protected.


Nina Kennedy is the author of Practicing for Love: A Memoir. Order your copy at:


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