ST. PAUL — African American women and girls in Minnesota are almost three times as likely to be murdered as their white peers. While comprising only 7 percent of the state population, 40 percent of domestic violence victims in Minnesota were Black women.
That's part of the findings in a report from the Missing and Murdered African American Women (MMAAW) Task Force released today.
''This task force is a first-in-the-nation initiative to examine the systemic causes of violence against African American women and girls and develop recommendations to reduce and end the violence," said Gov. Tim Walz. “With better data and increased awareness as a result of this report, we can move forward with effective and targeted strategies to support, protect, and heal their communities."
''For generations, Black women and girls have experienced disproportionate violence and have been collectively working to raise awareness and end this injustice," said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “We are grateful for the leadership of Representative Ruth Richardson and to the members of this Task Force and all of the people who contributed their expertise, time, and valuable insight. We want to make their voice heard. I am incredibly proud of the work and care that have informed these incredibly important findings."
The Minnesota Legislature created the task force in 2021. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) coordinated the group's work.
The task force included representatives from the Minnesota Legislature, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), DPS' Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, law enforcement agencies, attorneys and local organizations that provide services to Black women and girls. Research in Action assisted the task force, conducting extensive research and interviewing African American women and girls, as well as people who work in key agencies and institutions relevant to missing and murdered African American women.
Task force findings include:
Root causes of violence include racism and other remnants of slavery that defined Black women and girls by future profitability to enslavers, ability to work and ability to bear children.
Harmful stereotypes and beliefs about dangerous, hyper-sexual, irresponsible and lazy Black people continue to negatively impact Black women's and girls' lives today.
Occupational segregation results in lower wages for women in Minnesota. In Minnesota, workers in female-dominated sectors earn $18 per hour, while workers in male-dominated sectors earn $21 per hour. While one in five of Minnesota's white women work in service jobs, more than one in three Black women work in service fields.
One of the legacies of labor exploitation and discrimination is fewer opportunities to build savings to pay for quality housing. Safe, affordable housing is one of the most important factors in quality of life and protection from violence.
According to the report, interviewees shared a strong belief that more resources are needed to reduce the disproportionate harm suffered by Black women and girls. African American women and girls more often spoke about the need for more resources to prevent violence and harm, such as stable housing and educational programming. Those who work to provide service to victims were more focused on resources that would help them serve women and girls who had been harmed, such as better data collection or coordination amongst agencies.
The task force calls upon Minnesota to implement the following changes:
Funding housing and other spaces and resources to serve African American women and girls.
Developing effective culturally appropriate trainings and professional education for professionals including peace officers, prosecutors and victim services representatives.
Recruiting and hiring more African American staff including peace officers, prosecutors, and victim services representatives.
Establishing an office to support missing and murdered African American women and girls
''Minnesota has the opportunity to create a legacy of meaningful change for our African American women and girls. The task force's recommendations will serve as a starting point for that change," DPS Commissioner John Harrington said. “With commitment and investment towards implementation of these and other task force recommendations, we can truly impact lives of African American women and girls for generations."