According to federal statistics, 2020 marked the largest year-to-year increase in homicides in U.S. history. As Americans grappled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, murders jumped by 30 percent over the prior year. But the risk of death to Black girls and women is some of the most jarring data uncovered.
The Guardian reported that on each day of 2020, at least four Black women and girls were murdered. The FBI reported that despite the staggering uptick in the number of Black women and girls who were killed, the actual numbers are probably higher than the additional 405 murders they recorded compared with 2019.
Black women face a homicide rate that is three times that of white women. The CDC has been reporting since at least 2017 that Black women face significantly higher rates of homicide than every other female demographic in the US. Homicides of Black women appear to have been increasing even before last year’s murder spike, according to the CDC. Records show that overall Black men and boys at an additional 2,400 deaths over 2019, face the worst numbers of homicides. However, the numbers facing Black women in comparison to similar demographics are nonetheless staggering.
“There’s never been a moment in our society where there’s been a reckoning with the particular kinds of violence that’s meted out against Black women,” legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw told The Guardian.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the US, and while the uptick in homicides of Black women is not exclusive to crimes between partners, the majority of girls and women who are murdered do know their killer.
In acknowledgement, President Biden issued a proclamation reading, in part,
“Homicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States for women under the age of 44, and nearly half are killed by a current or former male intimate partner. During the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence has become a pandemic within a pandemic, with many victims facing the added pressures of increased economic insecurity, increased time in isolation with their abusers, and limited contact with their support networks.”
Black Femicide US, an advocacy group that tracks violence and murders of Black women and girls, says it tracked 1,068 killings of Black women and girls through 2021.
Ori Monroe, an organizer with Black Femicide US and co-founder of Black Women Lead/Black Femme Fund expressed frustration with the high numbers.
"When things get rough, Black women are the first to be harmed,” she said.