We Can’t Protect Black Women Only When It’s Convenient
ABOVE: De’Neshia and O’Shanae Bell pictured with injuries sustained
I’ve been a writer for fifteen years and an important part of being a journalist is being honest about the issues that matter. As a community we constantly see hashtags for things like Black Lives Matter and Protect Black Women, and I sincerely believe we as a people believe in the message.
However, do we stay true to the message?
This past weekend, two Black women were the victims of a hit-and-run driver as they were leaving The Address—a popular restaurant and sports bar in Houston.
The two sisters—De’Neshia Bell and O’Shanae Bell—were both walking down the street when someone ran into them at full speed, striking them. Both women sustained severe, but non-life-threatening injuries and are in stable condition.
O’Shanae broke her leg in three places and sustained dental damage. De’Neshia sustained a fractured eye socket and received several facial lacerations that will require plastic surgery.
It is still unclear whether they were struck by a drunk driver, or by the man who asked them if they wanted a ride to their car only to get upset when they declined his offer. What we do know is that these two Black sisters were assaulted by a motorist who used their vehicle as a weapon.
What’s more concerning, however, is what motivated me to write this article.
It was the people who saw these two Black women helplessly lying there in that street after being brutally attacked by a hit-and-run driver and drove around them as if they were some dead animals.
This lack of concern would not have been excusable for anybody to embrace, whether these Black women were drug addicts or homeless people. These Black women were none of those things.
These two young Black women were lying there, covered in blood, in their tattered clothes, screaming for help. I can’t accept that that’s who we are as a society. I can’t accept that after years of protests and with high-profile incidents like Sandra Bland and Briana Taylor, that a mostly Black crowd could simply stand by and watch these Black women suffer. It has hard to fathom that this mostly Black crowd would just merely drive around Black women who look like their mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives.
Truthfully, I’m not even writing this article as a journalist or author. I’m writing it as a hypocrite.
I call myself a hypocrite because I must ask myself, “Would I even be writing this article if the Black women who were hit weren’t women close to me?”
If I would have been scrolling social media and saw two Black women who had been involved in a hit-and-run and had no idea who they were, would I care?
That makes me part of the problem. I don’t doubt I would have pulled over to help them, but it’s more than that. It’s a mindset, it’s caring about the women in our community. It’s holding us accountable, as well as the developers and the communities who can put cameras on their $400,000 townhomes, but can’t put cameras facing the street to make sure everyone in the community is safe and secure.
The biggest threat to Black women isn’t just police officers, cancer, or COVID-19.
An even greater threat are the Black men who see the crimes, or the disrespect committed against our Black women and say nothing. It’s not just those of us that commit crimes or show disrespect. It’s those of us who say, “I protect my wife, I protect my daughter, so I’m good.”
What happens when you aren’t there to protect them though? What happens when someone you love is walking on the ungentrified side of Highway 288 and their life changes forever?
In the shadows of one of the best medical centers in the world, two Black women who should have been protected, were found laid in their own blood, crying for help, and who for valuable minutes received nothing in the form of assistance. This isn’t who we are. This can’t be who we are. We can’t ask for the world to change without leading the charge. I take no pride or pleasure writing this as a Black man.
We are asking for the public’s help to identify the person driving this vehicle and to get them off the Greater Houston area streets. As of this article, there is very little information on the make and model of the vehicle, but with the help of the community, we are hoping some may have seen something in the area. If you were on Bowling Green St., next to SH288 and Old Spanish Trail, at around 2:15 am on the early morning of September 25th, and witnessed a vehicle strike these two Black women at a high rate of speed prior to driving off, please contact the Crimestoppers Hit & Run Division of the Houston Police Department at 713.222.TIPS (8477).
You can also find additional information about the incident and share any information that anyone may know about the incident on the Forward Times Facebook page.