After the video from a pool party in McKinney, Texas went viral, people were outraged by how the young people were treated by some of the police officers on the scene. In particular, they were aghast by how 15-year-old Dajerria Becton was seized by the officers, slammed to the ground and sat on by a police officer.
Though the hashtag #SayHerName recently did some trending about police brutality against women of color, the conversation about police brutality against black women and girls hasn't been as loud as it's been for black men and boys. However, after the incident in McKinney, a new hashtag has blown up Twitter: #SafeBlackGirls.
It started with this plea from Twitter user @Blackamazon, whose real name is Sydette Harry:
"I want a space where people who care about and live the lives of black girls could start to dream and brainstorm what safety would look like," Harry told MTV News about the energy behind the hashtag.
"We begin from negatives too often when trying to change things. What if we started from places of care and love? How do we center black women and girls in their full humanity?"
Before long, more people began speaking up. While Twitter only allows for 140 characters, it provided a launching point for this important conversation.
For people from all walks of life, Harry gave some advice for taking on institutional racism and sexism: First, you have to identify the problem.
"One of the most important things we can do is see how the institutions and individuals shape our lives," Harry told MTV News. "Before we jump to fixing a problem, we have to correctly state what that problem is."
Harry explains that institutional oppression (things like racism and sexism) are "daunting problems, with many facets." Young black women stand at the intersections of those two huge issues, continually, and their stories of "unvoiced and unobserved."
"There are a lot of 'solutions' right now and very little time to reflect. We need that time," Harry said. "I want us to have a cultural moment of putting care for the most marginalized before fighting something."
So, how can society make sure black women's voices are heard and black girls are safe?
"First and foremost, ask black girls," she said. "Ask the black girls close to you. Not far away, as celebrities and icons or, even as I am, internet personalities. How do the black women in your communities feel about their safety? How can they thrive and not just survive?"
She emphasizes the importance of checking in with these women and girls and continually making sure their experiences are valued and heard. "Do the steps that 'protect women' actually protect black women, or are we just saying it?"
"When we stop assuming everyone feels the same, we can start to actually move towards guaranteeing black women’s safety."