#Standing4BlackGirls Youth Letter to Mayor Bass: Speaking Out Against Normalized Violence and Suicide

By Lizette Nsilu, WLP alumnus
As an 18 year old first-year college student and a #Standing4Black Girls and LGBTQIA+ activist, I am deeply concerned about the surge in violence against Black women and girls in L.A. During my 10th grade year, an old peer of mine from middle school committed suicide. Her death had a negative effect on my peers and everyone who knew her. Nationwide, suicide rates among middle school and high school-aged Black girls (12-14) increased by 59% from 2003-2019. These statistics hit harder when the people you pass every day in the hallways fall victim to it. From the perspective of Black girls, seeing another Black girl commit suicide, whether you know them or not, is becoming alarmingly “normal.” Consequently, one of our coalition demands centers on creating dedicated funding for targeted prevention education programming, mental health supports, and safe spaces for Black girls and Black gender expansive youth. This could have a big impact on decreasing suicide rates for Black girls who look like me.
Another issue that is important to me is that of dual arrests. When I was in 10th grade, my neighbor who resides across the street from me was a victim of domestic violence and dual arrest. The community had already reported her significant other in hopes of saving her. However, when she got up the courage to leave him and call the police to report the abuse, they both ended up being taken to the police station. Studies show Black women are more vulnerable to “dual arrests” in which they may be arrested themselves after reporting sexual assault or domestic. One-quarter of survivors reported they were arrested when they called the police on their abusers. Instead of finding protection and justice, in many situations both the victim and the abuser are arrested, leaving the victim in a further vulnerable and victimized state. Another issue I see a lot in my community is the alarming rates of Black women’s homicides. It seems like every week on social media I’m learning of a new story about a Black woman homicide victim and their families begging for anyone who may know or have seen anything to speak up. Unfortunately in most cases, they receive no runs or tips and the cases go cold, much like that of Tioni Theus. With terrifying statistics like these, I have to constantly be aware of and alert to my surroundings and even then just hope I’m not at the wrong place at the wrong time. To protect and preserve the lives of Black women in our communities, we must take action before things get even worse.
Video Thumbnail: #Standing4BlackGirls press conference 2023