Three recent killings in the Los Angeles area have put the spotlight on the disparate impact of gun violence on Black women and the lack of attention their stories receive, The Guardian reports. Two killings took place on weekends, a mere two weeks apart. On January 8, officials found the body of Tioni Theus, a 16-year-old girl who was found shot at a busy freeway onramp. This week, sisters Breahna Stines and Marneysha Hamilton were among four people shot dead during a mass shooting at a birthday party in Inglewood. Neither incident received much coverage outside of local news, raising questions about which stories are elevated in the national spotlight.
While discrepancies between the attention for white and Black victims of violence is nothing new, community organizers and researchers worry about the message this phenomenon continues to send to young Black girls about their worth and potential. “This image of a young Black girl on the side of a highway with cars driving by speaks to the invisibility of Black life,” said Nikki Jones, a professor of African American studies at University of California Berkeley. “Black girls are contending with the messages that their life is disposable, and that’s an extremely dangerous message.” Theus was born in L.A.'s Compton neighborhood. Family members described her as loving, caring and smart, and fond of playing golf. On Jan. 7, she told her father she was meeting someone at a party. Hours later, her body was found. Compare this case to the killing of Brianna Kupfer, a 24-year-old white woman stabbed to death in the furniture store where she worked on January 13. Days after that killing, which got nationwide media coverage, police announced a $250,000 reward for information. A suspect was arrested on Jan. 19. Homicides of Black women in California nearly doubled in 2020, with 99 killed compared with 55 in 2019, according to FBI data.