An Analysis of 2020 Homicide Data
Section Two: Black Females
The disproportionate burden of fatal and nonfatal violence borne by Black females has almost always been overshadowed by the toll violence has taken on Black males. Research published in 2017 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found, “Homicides occur in women of all ages and among all races/ethnicities, but young, racial/ethnic minority women are disproportionately affected.” The article concluded, “The racial/ ethnic differences in female homicide underscore the importance of targeting prevention and intervention efforts to populations at disproportionately high risk. Addressing violence will require an integrated response that considers the influence of larger community and societal factors that make violence more likely to occur.”1
In 2020, Black females were murdered by males at a rate nearly three times as high as white females: 2.96 per 100,000 versus 1.07 per 100,000. In 2020, Black females accounted for 14 percent of the female population in the United States, while 31 percent of the females killed by males in single victim/single offender incidents where the race of the victim was known were Black.
AGE OF BLACK FEMALE HOMICIDE VICTIMS
In 2020, for single female victim/single male offender homicides where the age of the victim was reported (628 homicides), nine percent of Black female victims were less than 18 years old (55 victims) and seven percent were 65 years of age or older (41 victims). The average age of Black female homicide victims was 36 years old.
VICTIM TO OFFENDER RELATIONSHIP
Compared to a Black male, a Black female is far more likely to be killed by her spouse, an intimate acquaintance, or a family member than by a stranger. Where the relationship could be determined, 90 percent of Black females killed by males in single victim/single offender incidents knew their killers (464 out of 516). Nine times as many Black females were murdered by a male they knew (464 victims) than were killed by male strangers (52 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 2020. Of Black victims who knew their offenders, 56 percent (259 out of 464) were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders. Ninety-one percent (584 out of 641) of the homicides of Black females were intra-racial.
BLACK FEMALE HOMICIDE VICTIMS AND WEAPONS
As with female homicide victims in general, firearms were the weapon most commonly used by males to murder Black females in 2020. In the 571 homicides for which the murder weapon could be identified, 72 percent of Black female victims (411 victims) were shot and killed with guns. Of these gun homicides, 62 percent involved handguns (254 victims). The number of Black females shot and killed by their husband or intimate acquaintance (166 victims) was more than three times as high as the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined (52 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 2020.
BLACK FEMALE HOMICIDE VICTIMS AND CIRCUMSTANCE
The overwhelming majority of homicides of Black females by male offenders in single victim/single offender incidents in 2020 were not related to any other felony crime. Most often, Black females were killed by males in the course of an argument—most commonly with a firearm. In 2020, for the 453 homicides in which the circumstances between the Black female victim and male offender could be identified, 92 percent (416 out of 453) were not related to the commission of any other felony.
Nearly two-thirds of non-felony related homicides (256 out of 416) involved arguments between the Black female victim and male offender. Sixty-seven percent (171 victims) were shot and killed with guns during those arguments.
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