I cannot get the image of Miriam Carey's daughter out of my head. During coverage of last week's devastating events, I noted the White ofﬁcer carrying a little Black girl. The child was well dressed with her hair neatly styled and accentuated by matching barrettes. I thought, "Her parent must have been harmed, so they had to rescue the child." I assumed she was the child of someone working in the area.
In times of crisis, I would hope that men with guns would be colorblind. I would hope…
I do understand that she rammed White House barricades. She ﬂoored the car with men, guns drawn, shouting for her to get out of the car. She sped away. And, struck a Secret Service Agent in the chaos that she created. In this situation, in this moment in American history, it is easy to give a pass to the ofﬁcers. But I can't help but wonder: was there no other option but to shoot this woman to death?
We are all in crisis mode. We are all being spoon fed crisis after crisis, high alert after high alert during a 24-hour news cycle. Visual clocks ticking and alarmist fast talking news reportage has us all on edge. America is in crisis both real and imagined. So, I know how Miriam Carey wound up dead. But, would she be dead if she was in a White female body with a neatly dressed White child in the backseat?
Would the ofﬁcers have recognized something in her personage, in her child's face, in her clothing that would have alerted them that she was not a threat? She was not shooting back at them. Was she "using the car as a weapon"? In that moment, when they made the decision to free the child, before they shot her mother, had they already made the decision to kill her?
I have heard horror stories about how Black women, who are brilliant, pregnant and single, get treated like pieces of trash in Brooklyn hospitals during childbirth. Regardless of their achievements or their professions, they are dismissed as “just another useless angry, pregnant black woman feeding off of taxpayer dollars." In hospitals and doctor's ofﬁces, we are, often times, powerless. I wonder what doctors might have ignored when Miriam Carey, who is said to have dealt with post-partum depression, was hospitalized. Or if those who treated her for her mental health issues saw her as a real human being who was deserving of care.
There is no around-the-clock news coverage of Miriam Carey. Imagine if it was a woman with White skin. We all would become semi-professionals in diagnosing postpartum. But, that's not happening. The media is treating this story the same way they treat all single Black mother—with steadfast disregard.
When you are sick and in need, you have to rely on the kindness of medical professionals. When you are in trouble with the law, you are at the mercy of the police. In America, as a Black person, that is some risky sh*t.
As I discuss with friends whether or not this woman should have been shot, it dawned on me; yes, this is an issue, but there are others. A Black woman, who was suffering, is dead. And, frighteningly, her child, neatly dressed, was in the car. Was there no way to show a level of regard for her life that could keep her alive? Witnesses have claimed that her car was blocked when the ofﬁcer shot her. It was blocked. No longer a threat.
We want recognition of this woman's pain. Because many of us are or know someone who is teetering on the edge after being disrespected, swept under the rug, maligned or rendered invisible. We want to understand what happened to Miriam Carey. Just as people could analyze Andrea Yates, the woman who drowned her five children in a bathtub and was found not guilty by reason of insanity. I wasn't even thinking about baby making back when that story hit and I became well-versed on the ins-and-outs of postpartum depression just by following the trial coverage. Miriam Carey deserves a similar empathy.
I am grateful that they rescued the little girl. And, perhaps her mother, in an altered state, believed she was rescuing her child. That little girl had her barrettes in place. Her clothes were colorful and clean. On that day, her mother gave her careful attention. What went wrong? We know that Carey grew up in Brooklyn, went to college and found a nice place in Connecticut to reside with her child. We've heard that she was suffering from depression. We don't know what her support system was like. Sometimes, when people are depressed, they can be difficult to bear. It's tough. Between her illness and the messages that constantly tell women—Black, single mothers in particular—that they are less than, I wonder if she simply came undone.
I suppose this piece is simply a way to acknowledge what many Black women might be feeling, today. To lament why there isn't more thought, talking, caring about this woman—and how hard it is to be us sometimes. Miram Carey's story might not have garnered the coverage that another woman would have gotten, but I just need to say that I care and I see us…and I'm sure many of you do as well.
ED NOTE: A previous version of this story stated that Carey's daughter was removed from the car before she was shot, per early