The killing of emergency room Dr. Tamara O’Neal outside a Chicago hospital on Monday shines a spotlight on the disproportionately higher rate that Black women die from domestic abuse.
Juan Lopez, 32, shot O’Neal, his ex-fiancé, outside Mercy Hospital after they had an argument, in what investigators said was a domestic-related dispute, CBS News reported.
Lopez then went on a rampage, going inside the hospital and killing two more people, including a police officer, during a shootout. Lopez died, but it’s unclear if he committed suicide or if police gunfire killed him.
That shooting came on the heels of another apparent deadly domestic dispute involving an African-American former Ohio judge and his estranged wife.
Police arrested Lance Mason, a Cuyahoga County ex-judge, for allegedly stabbing to death Aisha Fraser Mason on Saturday morning, WKYC-TV reported. He had served a prison sentence for previously assaulting her.
Black women have the highest death rate from domestic violence incidents, a 2017 report from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention found.
Complex reasons explain why Black women suffer disproportionately, according to Feminista Jones, a social worker and feminist writer.
“Racism and sexism are two of the biggest obstacles that Black women in America face. But because many Black women and men believe racism is a bigger issue than sexism, Black women tend to feel obligated to put racial issues ahead of sex-based issues,” Jones wrote in Time.
She blamed the racist criminal justice system for discouraging many Black women from reporting domestic violence incidents.
“As Black people, we don’t always feel comfortable surrendering our own to the treatment of a racially biased police state and as women, we don’t always feel safe calling police officers who may harm us instead of helping us,” she added.