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Why the Black Maternal Homicide is so Ridiculously High

Last week I wrote a post featuring jaw dropping statistics about the genocide on expectant and new Black mothers.  I discussed why that number is so ridiculously high in a radio interview for WFPL out of Louisville. It's probably one of the best I've done in 6 years on the issue of violence against Black women because the host, Dr. Kaila was just as knowledgeable, if not more knowledgeable, as I was on the issue. My portion of the show starts at the 5:00 mark and I think the best part of the discussion is at the 17:00 minute mark when we talk about POWER in the Black community and how SOME Black men participate and benefit from the oppression of Black women. It's the kind of conversation you will NEVER hear in a major Black forum. They also interviewedfilmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons the director of NO! The Rape Documentary, an examination of sexual assault in communities of color.

Once again, I mention Getting Played: African American Girls, Urban Inequality, and Gendered Violence its an encyclopedia of violence against teenage Black girls and if you don't have it in your library, you should consider adding it. 

Last week's post about Kasandra Perkins went viral. First, organically, people shared on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. I was happy that the ridiculous statistics about Black maternal homicide were being publicized.



By the end of the week, the stat had made it to some of the larger sites- though we heard CRICKETS out of the major Black news sites about the fact that Black women are seven times more likely to be killed while pregnant or within a year of child birth and 11 times more likely to be murdered if they are between the ages of 25 and 29. 


The radio interview goes into some structural causes, but I suspect part of the problem are wretched or nonexistent coping skills. 


Reader Comments (19)

I agree wholeheartedly about the nonexistent coping skills. It would seem we've somehow raised an entire generation of young men who are totally lacking in resiliency, but totally brimming with entitlement. When a relationship goes sideways they have no idea how to deal.

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoslynholcomb

Good work! And the powerful documentary film, "NO!" is simply amazing! I guess we won't see it on BET, Bounce, Essence mag, Oprah, etc. :( :(

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrevmamaafrika

"Among other differences noted, married women were found at less risk than unmarried women."

Maybe some of us "old fogeys" have, all along, had a point about MARRIAGE being the best and most stable (not perfect...) structure to bring our children into.

We must make better choices. Why would these numbers be a surprise when we constantly birth children into unformed, unstable, highly-volatile "relationships"?

When we used to sing: "--------" and "--------" sittin' in a tree....K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage. Then comes "--------" with a baby carriage," we sung it with a purpose. Let's save ourselves.

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWanda

@ Wanda, I'm an old fogey too, but clearly marriage does not protect women from violence or HIV/AIDS. Sexism/patriarchy is alive and well among our people, no matter how much some of us, especially church folks, try to deny it. And that's what's really killing us, a rigid, unrealistic adherence to gender roles, even when such roles smother us. :(

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrevmamaafrika


Can you honestly say that Black women are less likely to be abused or killed in an age where intact Black families are the exception not the norm? Black America's been doing the "Black fathers are optional" approach for nearly 50 years and its been a catastrophe for Black women.

The crime stats for Black males growing up in fatherless homes are chilling:


In retrospect, Jovan Belcher becoming a thug was sadly predictable since the absence of his father contributed to his attitude that Black mothers and by extension Black women weren't to be valued.

So, Wanda is correct that Black women marrying their boyfriends and THEN having the kids is great not only for them but Black communities as a whole.

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred

I think it's sad that a woman's murder by a high profile man is what it has taken for many in the Black community to realize that the average Black man has extremely poor-to-nonexistant coping skills. It seems like the first tip-off would have been the unnaturally high rate of family and child abandonment by so many Black fathers. I can't tell you how many times I've heard guys I know, intimately or in passing, say that they were "just not ready" for marriage/children/minivan etc, even though wanting non-platonic, UNPROTECTED relationships. And so many men who were willing to punish a woman by leaving or threatening to break off a relationship if she would not consent to such a relationship. Many of these men didn't even want to go through the "bother"of a standard get-to-know-you period. They didn't want love, they didn't want a caring relationship, they didn't want the compromise and challenges that go with a relationship. They wanted to go from initial attraction straight to sex to end of relationship, no strings attached. To suggest anything else was seen as "pressuring" them or being "siddity" and stuck up, thinking to much of oneself. Those men who were savvy enough to not say these things outright (or were slick enough to lie and give lipservice to love) would show their irresponsible and entitled mindsets in how they interacted. This lack of coping skills and irresponsibilty is definitely a main contributor to the high homicide rate against Black women.

I also cannot exclude the responsibility of American media in encouraging the high homicide rates of Black women. The extreme influencing power of mainstream media,in all its forms (music, TV, movies,etc) to continuously push reasons to hate or look down upon Black women, PARTICULARLY and ESPECIALLY in relation to Black men, is dangerous. I honestly believe that this continual portrayal of Black women as , at best, acceptable only out of necessity but not out of want or desirability, and, at worst, someone to despise, see as inferior or be envious of is to breed hatred and violence against us, particularly by our own.

As well as the celebration of violence by Black men against Black women in the media. Just in the last few months alone, about 4 different videos have been passed around the black blogosphere and on TV news showing Black women being beaten, punched, subjected to mob violence, etc. Rarely is the brutalizing of white female victims of violence paraded around for display - some are, don't get me wrong, but not as much as Black women.It's as if someone wants the world to become desensitized to violence against Black women, to make it seem normal and justified.

The problem is that no effective counter campaign has ever been launched against this, and more and more Black people, particularly the men, are going down the road to indoctrination of violence of Black women.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

@AJ what is the "average Black man." I'm always perplexed by declarations about Black men in general online because I don't know or hang around any of these generalizations y'all are talking about. Which is why I TRY to always add the qualifier of SOME or MANY or FAR TOO MANY.

December 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterThe Blogmother


I hear you very, very well, and I don't think too many folks want to go back to the days when our presumed place was "the kitchen and the bedroom" (even though, I must say, that was not our gender story/experience in my family...).

The questions are now: What structure do we expect to bring our children into? No structure? Random structures?

The fact of the matter is that I am now less safe walking within my own community today than I was 50 years ago. It wasn't perfect back then, but we didn't have to worry much about getting caught in between teenage "baby boy" crossfire while walking to the bodega for milk.

I joined the "patriarchal institution of oppression" after falling in love with my soulmate. Three wonderful children and one grandson later, we're still ticking....safely, btw.

The research in the report simply confirms what I see everyday. Too many of our children are born into unstable environments and terrible couplings, which leads to overwhelming violence in the household and in the community, and much too much self-defeat.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWanda

Another brother named "Jovan", "Javon", or whatever,


Copy cat crime perhaps? :( :(

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrevmamaafrika

@The blogmother: By the average Black man, I mean those that make up the 70% absentee father rate, the community abandonment rate, and the extremely high violence rate (against both women and men) in Black communities. I am by no means saying this is all Black men, but to go by even your jaw-dropping statistics, there is an "average" group of black men out there wreaking havoc in Black communities, in many ways.

Women too, but the rate of men doing so is much much higher. Believe me, I know that ALL Black men are not like the men that are spoken of in this blog, however I do know that many exist, form my own experience and others' experiences. While my parents are great and have been married for years, neither my mother or father knew their dads (my father never met his, and my mother only saw him for the first couple years of her life before he disappeared).

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

@ Wanda, unstable environment for children may or may not be with parents that are married, depends on the couple. We really under-estimate the negative propaganda out here, the hateful, sexist messages out here, from movies, videos, magazines, porn sites, news reports, etc.

But how we as a people sometimes define "real Black" is a problem as well. If you're a teen boy that is good at football or basketball, hundreds of people will cheer for you, give you lots of attention, etc. However, if you are a teen boy that is good at math, science, etc., you are called a geek, nerd, or worse yet, "acting White."

So marriage is not a magic bullet for these problems, I'm only suggesting we look deeper to see the problems AND the solutions. We as adults can't teach our youth discipline if we haven't learned it ourselves. :(

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrevmamaafrika

I am in my mid-forties, and in my community of lower-middle class married black couples when I was growing up, wife beating was the norm although not wife-killing. Let's not romanticize the past.

December 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDonnadara

Revmamaafrika said: "unstable environment for children may or may not be with parents that are married, depends on the couple."

But even the research that the Blogmother posted said that unmarried mothers are more at risk for maternal homicide than married mothers. Is that just "propaganda" or is a reality some of us just want to deny?

And when I talk about an "unstable environment" I'm not just talking about the household. I'm talking about the community you live in as well. Sorry, but today, if you live in an area where most of the families are fragmented, you are going to live in an area where violence happens on the regular. I've seen this for too many years.

This just happened the other day in Brooklyn, and as a native NY'er, it absolutely breaks my heart:

Woman found fatally shot in neck outside Brookdale University Hospital
Shelama Gaskin, 32, died as result of injuries; police are searching for suspect.

Inside a Brooklyn hospital, a young girl was being treated for a serious asthma attack; outside, her mother was mercilessly shot dead during a cigarette break.

Shalema Gaskin had just stepped through the doors of Brookdale University Hospital around 3 a.m. when a mystery gunman fired a single bullet into her neck, police said.

A passerby called 911 after he spotted Gaskin lying on the ground behind the hospital with blood spilling from the wound.

“She came outside to smoke a cigarette ... and she never made it back upstairs,” said her heartbroken mother, Tanya Gaskin, 50.

“Her baby’s father was up there waiting for her to come back and he didn’t know what happened until the cops called him.”

The killer was still at large Tuesday night.

The shocking murder left Gaskin’s family reeling in grief.

“She didn’t deserve to die,” said Gaskin’s aunt, Lila Evans. “That girl was an angel. She had no enemies.”

December 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWanda

i had no idea about this story, not sure how I could have missed it...but why does the stat that black pregnant women more likely to die of homicide surprise me at all...that's the sad thing is that when I read that, I wasn't surprised...this hatred of Black women and children is nothing new...going as far back as Mary Turner the pregnant Black woman who was brutally lynched and assaulted in 1918...it's like nothing has changed...it's just that instead of lynching, it's being shot now:

December 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpeanut

I am not only shocked by the high rate of maternal homicide for black women but also by the rate of infant homicide and other crimes in the black community. I hear child abuse and foster care is also high. I doubt 50 years ago the black community was like this. I keep hearing only negative info about black women and their lives. he only solution it seems is for women to stay away or move out of dangerous places.

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTasha

This interview is excellent. I agree that many people accept the sexual molestation of girls more easily than the molestation of boys. I also agree that many folks equate homosexuality with pedophilia.

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNappy Mind

Blogmother, how many of these homicides are murders of unmarried black women?

December 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrocknrollsista


I'm in the same age range, but in my neck of the woods Black men like father take a bullet first rather than hit their wives. Naturally, thugs like Belcher would not be long for this world if my father caught them hitting a woman.

I'm sorry you grew up in a lousy neighborhood, but that doesn't mean all Black men in the past were woman-hating thugs.

December 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred


This breaking news confirms your spot on analysis of Jovan Belcher:

In another warning sign that wasn’t taken seriously, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher texted about shooting his girlfriend two months before murdering her, then committing suicide. According to a report from Jackson County, Missouri prosecutors, Belcher sent a text message to another one of his girlfriends stating that he would “shoot” Cassandra Perkins, the mother of his child, “if she didn’t leave them alone.” The second girlfriend told police that she thought he wasn’t serious.

Read the rest at this article, Belcher Threatened to Shoot Girlfriend Two Months Before Murder-Suicide


December 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred

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