Mechanisms Connecting Police Brutality, Intersectionality, and Women’s Health Over the Life Course

Sirry Alang, Rahwa Haile, Rachel Hardeman, Jé Judson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Police brutality harms women. Structural racism and structural sexism expose women of color to police brutality through 4 interrelated mechanisms: (1) desecration of Black womanhood, (2) criminalization of communities of color, (3) hypersexualization of Black and Brown women, and (4) vicarious marginalization. We analyze intersectionality as a framework for understanding racial and gender determinants of police brutality, arguing that public health research and policy must consider how complex intersections of these determinants and their contextual specificities shape the impact of police brutality on the health of racially minoritized women. We recommend that public health scholars (1) measure and analyze multiple sources of vulnerability to police brutality, (2) consider policies and interventions within the contexts of intersecting statuses, (3) center life course experiences of marginalized women, and (4) assess and make Whiteness visible. People who hold racial and gender power—who benefit from racist and sexist systems—must relinquish power and reject these benefits. Power and the benefits of power are what keep oppressive systems such as racism, sexism, and police brutality in place.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S29-S36
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Public Health Association Inc.. All rights reserved.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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