‘Breonna deserved better’

ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND - JULY 05: In an aerial view from a drone, a large-scale ground mural depicting Breonna Taylor with the text 'Black Lives Matter' is seen being painted at Chambers Park on July 5, 2020 in Annapolis, Maryland. The mural was organized by Future History Now in partnership with Banneker-Douglass Museum and The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture. The painting honors Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by members of the Louisville Metro Police Department in March 2020. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

In recounting her mother’s inability to remember her own grandmother’s name, and in considering her daughter Brianna, Louisville poet and activist Hannah L. Drake remembers and honors Breonna Taylor vowing that, “never again will a Black woman’s name be forgotten.” Read her essay and listen as she delivers her poem, “Formation” at The Bitter Southerner.

I had to search deeply for the names of Black women. I thought of my name, my daughter’s name, which just so happens to be Brianna. I thought of the name of my mother, the name of my great-grandmother lost forever, and something inside of me said, “Not today. Not now. Never again will a Black woman’s name be forgotten. Her name deserves to be remembered.” She would not be another Black woman, erased. She would not be another Black woman, similar to Alberta Jones, who never found justice in Louisville. She would not be a memory hidden underneath bluegrass and bourbon. She existed. She was here. She lived. She breathed. She had a future. And she had a name. A name that this city and this nation needs to remember.

It is in Louisville that I was reminded as a Black woman, I will always be screaming to be heard.

However, I refuse to be silent. This city, this state and this nation have silenced Black women long enough.

So, I say her name, Breonna Taylor. I say her name loudly. I say her name often, fighting back the tears. I find myself whispering her name. I find myself pausing as I say my own daughter’s name, Brianna. I find myself taking Breonna’s name in my mouth, chewing it and spitting it out boldly for the world to hear. I say her name along with the other Black women that have died and that have been forgotten in the dialogue about Black lives mattering. Shantel Davis, Rekia Boyd, Sandra Bland, Yvette Smith, Shereese Francis, Aiyana Jones, Breonna Taylor. Women. All Black and all women, which at times is a double edge sword — race and gender — where rock and a hard place often collide.

Read the essay