SAY HER NAME: TOYIN SALAU
FIGHT FOR BLACK WOMEN LIKE THEY FIGHT FOR BLACK LIVES MATTER
(@autumnalwood / Instagram)
Editors Note: Some of the content in this post may be triggering to our audience due to themes of sexual violence. We have deliberately chosen to exclude graphic media to make this accessible to all.
Oluwatoyin Salau stood for justice. The 19-year-old Nigerian activist pleaded and screamed the names of murdered Black people with hopes that those names would remain in the minds and hearts of everyone who heard them.
Just over a week ago, Toyin Salau was one of the many Black women on the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, she joins the names of Black lives stolen.
(Editor’s note: Sexual Violence)
On June 6, she tweeted in detail about a man who sexually assaulted her after offering her a “safe place” to stay. When Toyin escaped from the man’s house, she called the police from a public library. A few days before, she had sought shelter in a church to “escape unjust living situations.” All her belongings were at the church, she said in the thread, leaving her with no means to find help.
Toyin was missing for days after tweeting about her assault. A week later on June 13, she was found dead in Tallahassee, along with Victoria Sims, 75, around 9:15 p.m. Police are investigating the deaths as a homicide.
Up until the days she went missing, Toyin fought against racism, advocating that justice be served for all the Black men and women who have been killed because of their skin. Yet when her life depended on it, she did not receive this same passionate fight from the Tallahassee community.
Fourteen days before her murder, Toyin protested in front of the Tallahassee Police Department. While gripping a megaphone, she recited the names of Black people who had been killed, including George Floyd and Tony McDade –– a trans man who was shot and killed by police in Tallahassee on May 27.
At the same protest, Toyin said, “We’re doing this for every Black person because at the end of the day, I cannot take my f*cking skin color off… Everywhere I go, I am profiled whether I like it or not.”
Many on social media are outraged at the lack of attention Black women, specifically dark-skinned Black women, receive after their deaths.
Black women like Breonna Taylor and trans women like Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells were also killed but largely overlooked by the media. For these women, #SayHerName is circulating on Twitter. Toyin herself retweeted the hashtag on May 8.
The FBI began investigating Taylor’s case just a couple of weeks ago –– months after her death in March. The attention is undeniably due to the pressure applied by the online world. Without protesting and bombarding social media, nothing would have happened.
Five days before Toyin’s death, she tweeted, “We do not ask for our stories to be put on display for pity but we deserve to be SEEN there cannot be any censorship on this matter.”
The fight for Blacks Lives Matter must be intersectional. Fighting for Black Lives must mean fighting for ALL Black people, regardless of their gender.
Rapper Common tweeted, “It shouldn’t be lost on us that Black Women have been at the forefront of these Movements. We have to stand up against violence happening to our Black Women and Girls.”
Black women, cis and trans alike, who are taken too soon deserve the same memorialization as Black men who suffer the same fate. As thousands around the world chanted George Floyd’s name, they need to know the names of fallen Black women as well.
Their stories need to be amplified rather than muffled. These Black women deserve the same love. And they deserve that love when they are killed and when they are alive.
Toyin Salau’s pain and heartache is a testimony to the wretched injustice in the U.S. We should feel angry. We should demand action.
Do not look away from Toyin Salau. Do not let her story go untold. Her last days were spent fighting for Black rights. The least we can do is fight for hers.
Black Lives Matter.
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Katie Delk is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. Her simple pleasures include meditating, sitting beneath trees, writing poetry and blasting '70s music. She cares immensely about the earth, powerful women and social justice. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.