“In clear, urgent prose, police-misconduct attorney Ritchie (Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women, 2015, etc.) shines an eye-opening spotlight on women of color targeted by police violence, a demographic that is not often well-represented in the media. She begins her discourse with history, discussing the controlling dynamic of slavery and colonization. The author then addresses more contemporary and vexing issues involving the aggressive enforcement of minor offenses and the rogue street policing of young women, disabled people, and gender-nonconforming people of color...She shares her impressions of the abuses of Native women protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline as well as...of Sandra Bland, Eleanor Bumpurs, and Kayla Moore, a black trans woman who died at the hands of transphobic police officers. Ritchie further details more personal stories of women affected by racial profiling, unsubstantiated criminalization, and rampant abuse...Dense, comprehensive arguments certain to bring awareness to the epidemic of police brutality against historically vulnerable...groups.”
“The death of Sandra Bland in a Texas jail cell, stemming from a racialized escalation of a simple traffic stop recorded on dash-cam video, remains a mystery, but not an anomaly. Police-misconduct attorney Ritchie shines a spotlight on the gender-based violence continuously visited upon women and girls of color by law-enforcement officials with impunity. She takes the wide view, beginning with America’s founding, on through slavery and beyond, detailing a long history of physical abuses paired with persistent, dehumanizing, and racist stereotypes of black, indigenous, and Asian women. Moving forward to more recent decades, Ritchie expands the scope to include the disabled and mentally ill, LGBTQ, Muslim, Latina, and the undocumented, relating dozens of individuals’ experiences of police harassment, physical and sexual assault, extortion of sexual favors, and the use of lethal force. Ritchie is not content with compiling a list of incidents. She challenges readers to organize and demand solutions that provide transparency and accountability. The systemic police exploitation of women and girls in marginalized communities will not cease without changes to the very structure of policing. Ritchie’s focused study and call to action is an essential work.”
—STARRED review, Booklist
'Invisible No More' Is a Chilling History of Police Violence Against Women of Color
Andrea J. Ritchie's new book offers fresh perspective on how American law enforcement reserves particular abuse for black women.
What makes the video shocking isn't just the violence; it's also how rote the violence is. In the clip from October of 2015, Ben Fields—at the time, a sheriff's deputy and the school resource officer at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina—tells a young black woman to leave the classroom. She refuses. So Fields, who is white, wraps his forearm around the student's neck, flips her—along with her desk—onto the floor, and tosses her several feet. He then handcuffs her with chilling casualness, as if this reflexive violence toward an alleged classroom disruptor is all in a day's work.
But, well, it is, in a way. And unthinking violence against black women shouldn't be all that shocking, as Andrea J. Ritchie, a police-misconduct attorney, explains in her new book, Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color. What happened in Columbia—my hometown—was "representative of decades-long trends in policing black girls and girls of color across the country, in and out of school," Ritchie writes. If this aggression comes as a surprise, it's because—and this is exactly the author's point—it wasn't until recently that the issue of police misconduct against women of color found greater prominence in national discussions of a carceral regime run by police. [READ MORE]
Invisible No More, Andrea Ritchie ’90
“Black women, long the backbone of efforts to resist state violence, are insisting that we will no longer only play the role of aggrieved mother, girlfriend, partner, sister, daughter, or invisible organizer,” Ritchie writes, “and demanding recognition that we, too, are targets of police violence.” A scholar, organizer, and attorney specializing in police misconduct cases, Ritchie examines how women of color suffer due to racial profiling, police brutality, and other ills—discussing such infamous cases as that of Sandra Bland, who committed suicide in jail after being arrested during a traffic stop. “Ritchie’s focused study and call to action is an essential work,” Booklist said in a starred review of the book, which features an introduction by civil rights activist Angela Davis.
—Cornell Alumni Magazine