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Minnesota Takes Action on Missing and Murdered Black Women

Black women are killed and lost at much higher rates than their white counterparts. A movement in Minnesota aims to change that.

Taylor Hayden, a 25-year-old Black woman and native Minnesotan, was enjoying a weekend in Atlanta with her friends in 2016. While waiting for an Uber, she was killed by gunfire, an unintended victim of gang violence.

“In my case, my child, Taylor, 25 years old, a graduate from an HBCU – Prairie View – just a beautiful young lady, everything ahead of her, and she gets taken from us,” says her father, Peter Hayden.

Taylor shared the fate of many Black women, who, in Minnesota and across the nation, are murdered at a rate nearly three times that of their white counterparts. Nationwide, 2,069 Black women and girls were murdered in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In an effort to address the issue in Minnesota, state legislators and advocates created the Missing and Murdered African American Women Task Force – the first of its kind in the country. The task force, which started in 2021, wrapped up in December 2022 and issued its final report that same month.

Participants in the initiative admit there’s still a long road to justice for Black women and girls, but are hopeful the task force can put Minnesota – and possibly the rest of the country – on the path toward change.

Disrespected, Unprotected, Neglected

For Black women and girls aged 15 to 34 years old, homicide was the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, overwhelmingly by firearms. It’s a trend exacerbated by the higher levels of access to weapons in the U.S., says Shatema Threadcraft, a professor of gender, sexuality studies and political science at Vanderbilt University – and one that seems to be increasing. The rate at which Black women aged 15 to 34 were murdered by firearms in 2020 – 11.44 per 100,000 – was 46% higher than in 2019 and more than double the rate in 2010.

The disparity in homicide rate for Black women of all ages is slightly better in Minnesota than it is nationally in recent years. Between 2016 and 2020, Black women in the state were 2.7 times more likely to be homicide victims compared to white women, while nationally they were 3.1 times more likely, according to age-adjusted CDC figures.

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