Korryn Gaines, Assata Shakur, & Harriet Tubman: Militant Black Feminism & Human Liberation

In reaction to the video of Korryn Gaines’s traffic stop, prior to her murder at the hands of Baltimore Police in her own home, many people were critical of her and outraged at the fact that she did not back down during the confrontation with the police. Because accounts such as the murders of Eric Garner and Philando Castille prove that melanated people are murdered without consequence, despite having cooperated with police officers, it is contradictory to uphold their names and not also say Korryn Gaines’s name simply because she expressed her disdain with the occupying colonial forces that were intentionally targeting her. In the context of armed resistance, black feminism, and the legacy of renowned freedom fighters such as Assata Shakur and Harriet Tubman it is apparent that black women do not have the same privilege of being exalted as radical agents of black liberation as black men like Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton, and Fred Hampton.

When it was announced earlier this year that Harriet Tubman would soon replace Andrew Jackson on the face of $20 dollar bill, many people championed her legacy as a shotgun-toting abolitionist willing to risk her life to see that others could also enjoy an existence free from slavery. Perhaps a romanticization of the past is what disconnects people from seeing Korryn Gaines’s encounter with the Baltimore Police any different than the way Harriet Tubman would have assessed a similar situation in the 1800’s? Throughout her time as a free woman who escaped from slavery and conductor on the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman was a wanted fugitive with a bounty for her capture. In contrast to Korryn Gaines who was murdered by Baltimore police stemming from an encounter with law enforcement officers months earlier, in which an arrest warrant had then been produced for her capture, like Harriet Tubman it is evident that the two shared similar sentiments about the construction of this de facto settler-colonial nation and were not to be taken without a fight.

In contrast to the bounty placed on revolutionary hero Asaata Shakur after her top 10 placement on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list in 2013 at $1,000,000 dollars, the contradiction of people and history revisionists who attempt to uphold figures like Harriet Tubman while remaining silent on the U.S. campaign to take down Asaata and condemning the actions of Korryn Gaines is baffling. In an effort to protect her child from being terrorized by the United States government, Asaata saw to it that her daughter moved to Cuba and lived with her. The shooting of Korryn Gaines’s son, who claimed that the shotgun allegedly wielded during the fatal confrontation was a toy, like the unjust murder of Tamir Rice exemplifies the disdain that police officers have for the lives of black children which many mothers will go great lengths to protect from harm. Claims against the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services and Child Protection Services holding that they are unlawfully kidnapping children have been growing over the years and Korryn Gaines was certainly not entertaining the idea of her children becoming wards of the state.

Who will survive in America? This question has left many staggered and unknowing who is protected under the U.S. settler-colonial regime. Many people like Harriet Tubman, Asaata Shakur, and Korryn Gaines have dedicated their lives to freeing themselves from this arbitrary settler-colonial occupation and many people of various nationalities have lost their lives at the hands of state-sanctioned murderers since the inception of the United States. However, in the context of a black feminist future it is apparent that despite facing 3 intersecting means of oppression (race, sex/gender, & class) and having to experience the worst of what human life has to offer, it is Black Women who are leading all demographics in education, entrepreneurship, and political activism. Ushering in a new era of Black Power struggle in the United States, via a movement primarily led by Black Women who aim to end all forms of oppression through #BlackLivesMatter, it is imperative to understand the pivotal role of Black Women in liberating the entire human race.

In closing I would like for readers to reflect on the lives of revolutionary heroes who have been taken from us as well as the the greats who remain in the physical today. By contextualizing the plight of the martyr Korryn Gaines into a historical narrative of freedom fighting I hope that you understand the need to stand up for, listen to, and support Black Women. I also hope that you are able to find clarity and better grasp the situation that black people have been faced with since 1492 when the Moors were forced out of Spain.

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