On May 14, 2019, Pamela Shantay Turned died during an officer involved altercation in Texas over outstanding warrants. Full story here.
This hurts. And, it hurts every time. Her name was Pamela Shantay Turner. She was a mother & grandmother. Pamela Shantay Turner shouldn’t have died.
She shouldn’t have had to yell, “I am pregnant” as a means to protect her body from danger & her life from death.
While she is not alive to testify to the plethora of emotions she undoubtedly experienced from the beginning to the end of the altercation, she left us with three words: “I am pregnant!”
I surely cannot speak for all women. But, I am fairly confident that yelling “I am pregnant” in the midst of a violent altercation when you’re not pregnant isn’t for show. It’s not for shits & giggles.
I am pregnant = I am afraid for my life.
I am pregnant was a cry to protect her life.
I center this point because too often PoC who are victims of police brutality don’t live to tell their story. They don’t live to speak of the fear they experienced. They don’t get to tell of the ways in which they too were protecting themselves.
Instead victims, in particular victims of color, are dehumanized, villainized & victim blamed.
Pamela Shantay Turner isn’t here to tell her story but yelling “I am pregnant” bares witness to her state of distress, a plea for help, an attempt to diffuse a violent escalation.
Pamela pulled out her weapon in attempt to end the violence: I am pregnant.
In turn, the officer pulled out his weapon—his gun—in attempt to end the violence with more violence. While Pamela was not pregnant, the officer would have shot them both.
Sit with that.
I want to humanize Pamela Shantay Turner’s experience. With empathy in one hand & logic in the other, every one of Pamela’s acts tonight can be interpreted as an act of self-defense from the threat of dying: Walking briskly. Shouting your harassing me. Grabbing the taser. And, her final act: I am pregnant.
Right now, I am not interested in debating if the officer was justified or not. I am not interested in a binary right/wrong logic. I am not interested in privileging the police officer’s experience at the expense of dehumanizing Pamela Shantay Turner.
I am ONLY interested in calling out Pamela Shantay Turner’s humanity.
*featured photo from heavy.