Say her name.
Say it out loud: DaJerria Becton. A beautiful name, let your voice say it out loud.
Scripture tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God – Jesus gives us ears to hear and then faith comes. I think there’s something powerful about our own voices speaking the truth out ahead of ourselves. Our words matter. Our voices matter. What we speak aloud often sinks its way into our soul and our memory and then into our actions.
So here is what we could say today: DaJerria Becton.
I believe that today the crucified and resurrected Christ is saying her name with us: DaJerria Becton.
You are made in the image of God, DaJerria, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are valuable. You are beloved.
She is not “Bikini Girl.”
Not “that black girl in the bikini in that video.”
Not “the McKinney girl.”
Not whatever terrible name she was called that day or in the days since as people cast judgment on her and her friends for the way the day ended: a white man’s knees pressed into her young back, forcing her face into the grass while she cried out for someone to call her mama.
“Someone call my mama!”
Her name is DaJerria Becton.
She is just fourteen years old, someone’s child, yes, but she is her own person, made in the image of God. And she was brutalized, terrified. No matter what lead up to that moment, this was deeply engrained racially-motivated and sexualized violence. That man’s instinct was to throw her by her braids, a slender teenager in a bikini, to scream, to point a gun, to put the full weight of a culture that believes she is a danger because of her skin and disposable because of her sex right into her back.
There are a million reasons to be outraged: as a feminist, as a follower of Jesus who deeply loves the powerless, as a mother.
If anyone could watch that video and not feel the rage, the impotent need to rescue that child, then I have to wonder: how numb have you become to injustice?
Nameless victims are somehow easier for us to forget. But she’s not a nameless victim. She’s not what she wore or what she said, she’s DaJerria Becton from Texas and she’s fourteen years old.
From the ancient tribal culture of the Bible to Boko Haram and ISIS to our own “civilized” societies, there are stories of the hundreds of nameless victimized women throughout patriarchy’s history. One after another after another, until our sisters somehow blur together. God’s global daughters aren’t a nameless, faceless sex. We have names. History glosses over us, we’re the collateral damage to the wars of men, and so our voices matter: lift them up and remember, we have names. We have stories, we have families.
Every woman matters. Black women matter, too. Aboriginal women matter, too. Poor women, too.
There’s litany of names. One woman after another who has been murdered or damaged, made even more vulnerable often because of socio-economics or race or location. Here in Canada, our litany includes our aboriginal women – more than 500 murdered or missing as far as we know. We become numb to their faces, to their stories, it’s always one more one more one more one more in the news.
Let her be a person, not a news story or a litany or a victim. We will learn from the marginalized and oppressed, we will believe their stories. We will incline our ears and amplify voices. We will become educated beyond our own narrow context. We will not become numb and we won’t mind our own business, we will let our hearts cry out alongside of our sisters.
Say a name today.
We see you. We weep for you. We will carry you. We will pray for you and for your community. And we will never stop labouring for God’s dream for humanity to come true. We won’t give up and we won’t lose hope.
We will be angry with you and for you – and then we will let that righteousness move us further out into redemption.
Say a name today (there are too many to choose from, so many names, so many women.)
Jesus, be near to the brokenhearted, comfort the afflicted, bring freedom and truth and reconciliation.
Today, go on, I dare you, say her name: DaJerria Becton.
And let your heart break.
(This post was inspired by the powerful hashtag #SayHerName to raise the visibility of the Black female victims of police brutality.)