I know the name of Breonna Taylor, a young, Black woman who was killed during a police raid in Louisville that went horribly wrong.
Her name has been painted on protest signs, her face plastered on billboards and murals.
But in the midst of all the rise-ups across the nation over police shootings of Black people, I had forgotten that Kierra Coles, a young, pregnant, Black woman disappeared from Chicago’s South Side nearly two years ago, her disappearance still a real-life mystery.
Despite a reward fund that has grown to nearly $50,000, no one has come forward with information about what happened to her.
The missing postal worker’s family celebrated Cole’s 28th birthday on Thursday with a cake and a plea.
“I need to know where my baby is,” Cole’s father told reporters.
There are theories about what happened to Coles, who was pregnant with the child of a longtime boyfriend who also had children with another partner.
But detectives have been unable to charge anyone in connection with Cole’s disappearance.
Perhaps I’ve seen too many episodes of “Dateline,” but it might help if a compassionate private detective would take an interest in this missing person’s case and do some digging.
Cole’s family and friends are doing their part to keep this mystery in the public eye, but they could use the help of activists marching under the banner of “Say Her Name.”
And Coles isn’t the only horror story involving Black women in Chicago. Chaunti Bryla, 43, was killed in March 2019, her body stuffed in a container. The man charged with killing her, Marvin Bailey, drove around with her remains for nearly a week before placing them in a dumpster, according to the police. Bryla’s body was never recovered.
The Chicago Police Department is customarily tight-lipped about criminal investigations. Still, Cole’s disappearance and the bizarre details of Bryla’s murder show how vulnerable Black women can be in this city.
That Cole’s case is growing colder is worrisome.
Next month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Women of color are still two-and-a-half times more likely to be killed by men than white women, according to the Blackburn Center, a Pennsylvania-based domestic violence center.
While many of us can see the injustice and betrayal when a white officer kills a young Black woman like Taylor, too many of us keep silent about intimate-partner violence.
According to a study of 2018 homicide data released this past week, nine of 10 Black women murdered by men are killed by someone they know. The Washington-based Violence Policy Center study found that “605 Black women were murdered by males in single-victim/single-offender incidents at a rate of 2.85 per 100,000. In comparison, the rate for white women murdered by males for that same period was 1.03 per 100,000.
“When the murder weapon could be identified, 64% of Black female victims were shot and killed with guns, and, within that group, 70% were killed with a handgun,” according to the study.
It’s understandable that woke people are outraged when a white police officer unjustifiably uses lethal force against a Black suspect. That outrage has forced those in power to begin looking in the mirror and committing to changing festering inequities.
But too many of us have kept silent when it comes to the violence perpetrated against Black women by Black men even though the statistics are appalling.
The Blackburn Center’s Black Women’s Health Project also found that 92% of the killings of women by men were committed by a Black man against a Black woman, leading researchers there to conclude that violence is the No. 1 health issue facing Black women.
Sisters need to say the names of their murdered sisters just as loudly as they say the names of the brothers who have been killed by police.
Only then will brothers be forced to look in the mirror.