A murder occurred in Oakland early Sunday morning. As of this posting, there is exactly one — count it — one, article about the incident in the media, at least as measured by Google News hits for Oakland murder.
37-year-old Brandy Martell was sitting behind the wheel of her car around 5:15 a.m. at when one or two men walked up and began a conversation. A witness told ABC7 the conversation was cordial, but then.. one of the men became angry and fired into the car right where Martell was sitting.
“When you don’t provide a space in society for people who you think are the other or different, especially transgender women, especially transgender women of color, when you don’t provide spaces for them to be in a safe environment or a safe space, whether it’s socializing or services, this is what happens,” Martell’s friend Tiffany Woods told ABC7.
As Horace Boothryd’s breaking diary yesterday noted, there was an email notice send out about the murder Sunday evening, with a damning claim about police inaction.Brandi, a transwoman, was murdered last night, shot at 12th and Franklin in Downtown Oakland after an altercation with a man who became enraged and shot her when he realized she was trans. An amazing #oo comrade tried to keep her alive with training learned from the People’s Community Medics, but the cops walked away and the ambulance came too late.
If you are doubting whether this could possibly be true, I suggest you read Politicized ‘Hate Crimes’, the OPD and District Attorney O’Malley, and judge for yourself.
It is true that Oakland is a high-crime city, at least if you consider the data per capita. But Oakland is just not that populous, so that you might think that each of the some 110+ murders a year that occur within its boundaries would garner significant media attention. But as of five o’clock today Oakland’s flagship newspaper, the Oakland Tribune, had absolutely nothing about a rather shocking crime that took place just a block from Frank Ogawa Plaza / Oscar Grant Park.
Think about what the newscape would look like if a well-heeled, white, Oakland citizen living on “the right side of the tracks” (or, in Oakland parlance, “the hills”) had been the victim. Or consider that another murder that took place at almost the same location in November of 2011 while Occupy Oakland was camping in the Plaza rated world-wide headlines. I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine how many articles there were about broken windows in Oakland on November 2nd, 2011.
i didn’t even know about the last link, the one in D.C. just…. fuck.
uh this “nobody cares” thing I keep seeing everywhere sucks because I actually have seen a lot of trans women caring, let’s not call them “nobody”
we’re talking about on a larger scale, the absolute silence, the fact that it’s been days and there are all of 3 articles about it (one of which does not even mention the words ‘trans’ or ‘murder’). we’re talking about how, if it was a white cis womyn, where would have been a fucking uproar and somebody, whether guilty or not, would be in custody. people would be talking about this outside tumblr, on the news, on the streets. people (and not just other trans folks and random allies on tumblr) would be pissed.
i didn’t run into a single person yesterday who knew about brandy’s murder prior to my telling them.
but everyone and they momma (indeed, my own mom) remembers that time a bunch of occupy oakland protestors smashed some windows (injuring no one at all, by the way). the lives of trans folks of color are literally worth less mention than some goddamn windows. literally.
trans womyn are not ‘no one’ and i don’t think anyone means to imply that. but i think there is a LOT of room to be completely outraged by the lack of empathy, the lack of mourning, and the lack of action.
I know what you and other people mean by it, and i’m not mad or trying to be like shut up as much as i’m trying to point out that saying “nobody is talking about this” when trans women have been talking about it is, like, the problem we are talking about: that article’s point it that it sucks that the murders of trans women of color don’t seem to matter, it’s hard for me not to ask “they don’t seem to matter to whom?” I know a lot of people right now who are absolutely scrambling for any kind of thing we can do about the astronomical murder rates of trans women of color in our cities, and we don’t get a ton of support on that work from the media. The media doesn’t actually seem invested in that work, and saying “nobody cares” when people actually have vocally been upset and looking for something to do seems to make this a story about media instead of a story about a real live woman was murdered- a story that’s happening in a context in which this stuff is an epidemic, trans women of color are murdered like once a week.
The subtext is that nobody who matters is talking about Brandy’s murder.
It’s reinscribing a white- and cissupremecist hierarchy of whose speech counts and conflating the ability to instigate positive social change with a question of whose speech is even worth acknowledging. I know I’m nerding out but it just seems pretty easy to say something like like “the media is not talking about her” or “cis people are not talking about her” or “white people don’t care” or “everyone but trans women is being silent about it,” instead of using a position of privilege- access to the media- to make an important point and, at the same time, reinforce that hierarchy of whose speech gets to make points. It’s a pretty small criticism about language but i think it’s an important one to make because, y’know, we both agree that it sucks to be told that you’re nobody, that you don’t count.
ugh sorry blah blah blah the tl;dr version is that if it looks from a media perspective like nobody has been talking about Brandy’s murder, it’s because the media doesn’t care about the people who have
ah, i’m starting to hear you now. and i can see how saying ‘no one cares’ could reinforce a hierarchy of whose voices matter, definitely.
if an oppressed group experiences a grotesque act of violence like this, suffers such a terrible and unnecessary loss, and pretty much only that oppressed group responds, you’re right. that’s not nobody.
but it’s still worth a lot of discussion about whose lives matter, about the media’s conspiracy of silence, and about the fucked up things enabling this type of shit
i totally agree with you.