On Friday, January 22, Janese Talton-Jackson was killed in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The 29-year-old mother of three was at Cliff’s Bar when Charles McKinney, 41, approached her and attempted to give her his number.
Talton-Jackson, 29, declined his advances and when she left the bar, McKinney followed her and fatally shot her in the chest.
McKinney initially fled the scene but was pulled over for a traffic stop when police responded to a call of gunshots in the area. When he overheard dispatch giving officers a description of the shooting and a silver vehicle matching his, he sped off.
Police chased McKinney for several blocks until he crashed into another vehicle and was apprehended. He’s been charged with homicide, aggravated assault, possession a firearm without a license, fleeing the police, possession with intent to deliver, reckless driving and reckless endangerment.
Talton-Jackson is the sister of State House Rep. Ed Gainey, who has yet to release a statement about her murder.
A similar incident took place in 2014 when Mary Spears was the victim of an unrequited solicitation by Mark Dorch. During a memorial service for Spears’ relative, Dorch repeatedly try to get the 27 year old’s attention. Spears was a mother of three boys whose fiancé was also present at the time of her death.
When security escorted Dorch out of the event, he soon returned with a gun and fatally shot Spears and wounded five others. In June 2015, Dorch was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30-60 years in prison.
Unfortunately, street harassment is an epidemic that many women are subjected to on a daily basis. It seems as if chivalry has frequently been replaced with “Hey ma,” then quickly followed by “f*ck you b**ch” if a man doesn’t receive the response he wants from a woman he finds attractive.
Hello Beautiful spoke exclusively with Feminista Jones, the creator of #YouOkSis, a campaign to amplify the experiences of women of color dealing with street harassment and provide bystander intervention strategies to support those in need. She shared the importance of not trivializing this issue.
“When a Black woman rejects a Black man, there is a risk that he will take personal offense that she has stripped him of the one source of control he has,” Jones said. “In the last couple of years, all of the women who have been killed because of street harassment—at least the ones that made the news—have been women of color, mainly Black women.
“Black women are seen as property by all in society but the relationship with Black men is unique in that they’re socialized to believe they must dominate us,” she continued. “For many Black men, the only power they feel is when they exert dominance over Black women, so with street harassment, it’s a public display of powerful manhood.”
She goes on to share the deeper, possibly psychological aspects associated with street harassment.
“When we talk about violence against Black women, people have a hard time accepting the truth because we are not often seen as valuable human beings,” Jones explained. “Street harassment has been an issue in which the experiences of Black women have gone ignored—even though the harassment is often harsher and starts earlier for us.
“We have an epidemic of disenfranchisement experienced by Black men that is, unfortunately, too often acted out violently against Black women,” she added. “We also have to address toxic masculinity as experienced by Black men and how that too often leads to violence against Black women and girls.”
In the same way social media has helped to shed light on police brutality and social injustices via #BlackLivesMatters, we hope the virality of movements such as Jones’ #YouOkSis, and #SayHerName—a campaign created by the African American Policy Forum’s Kimberle Crenshaw that centers state violence against women of color—will help raise awareness that Black women are vulnerable on multiple fronts.
From white cops, to domestic partners, to Black men at the club who won’t take no for an answer, Black women are too often considered easy prey because perpetrators don’t believe their lives matter—to them nor to anyone else. None of this is acceptable and we need to make that clear at every opportunity.
Black women and girls matter.