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The Black Woman’s Defense League (BWDL) is a Dallas-based organization with a pro-gun stance whose mandate is liberation for women. Founded in 2015 by 26-year-old Niecee Cornute (aka Niecee X), BWDL provides a safe space for women by providing martial arts training, rape counseling and prevention, health/sex education, economic and social empowerment classes, and weekly firearm practice at a local gun range.
Niecee X, Founder of BWDL
Admittedly, it’s somewhat jarring to see Niecee X posing with what looks like an Uzi. However, statistics affirming the systematic sexual abuse and violence that black women experience as facts of life in America are even more unsettling:
• Every 19 hours a black woman is killed by a man.
• Once every 21 hours, a black woman is killed by a black man.
• Black women are murdered by men at more than twice the rate of white women. 91% of these murders are committed by men they know.
• More black women die because of violence from a domestic/intimate partner than black men get killed by the police.
• Although the lives of black men lost have been highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement, relatively little attention has been given to black women whose lives have been taken by police or their misogynistic men.
• Since 2010, at least 22% of black women have been raped at some point in their lifetime.
• Hundreds of thousands of rape kits sit untested in police departments and crime labs across the country.
• Black women often don't report abuse due to mistrust of the system.
• Only 13% of the U.S.’s female population is black; but 30% of all women behind bars are black.
• Women are the fastest growing demographic of gun owners.
VICE reporter Wilbert L. Cooper profiles BWDL and their fight against white supremacy and violent patriarchy.
Parallel Trends in the Caribbean
According to ‘Code Red,’ the online blog from the Barbados-based, feminist activist collective incidences of domestic violence, incest, and rape of girls and women are widespread in indigenous, Indo and black communities throughout the Caribbean. However, the region's rates of investigation, trial and conviction in such cases are abysmally low.
There’s also a tendency to downplay rape and blame female victims for misogyny throughout the Caribbean as reported Flora Thomas in ‘Global Voices Online'. Thomas opines that women in the region are no longer willing to put up with abuse. I sincerely hope she’s right.
Are sisters in Guyana, Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, etc. sufficiently supported and vex enough to be able to stand up to male abusers, advocate for their own safety, demand fair treatment and, in doing so, empower their entire community? Or, do abused and vulnerable women in the Caribbean need to adopt the BWDL model and start using guns to protect themselves from systemic misogyny and violence?