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Everything We Know About The 19-Year-Old Activist Who Was Found Murdered In Tallahassee

We deserve better.

Human Interest

If no one has told you today: I love you and I see you, sis.

Regardless of our sexual orientation, economic status, religious beliefs, and marital status, Black women remain the most neglected, unprotected, and disrespected people in America and you, my good sister, deserve better. I deserve better. And so did 19-year-old activist Oluwatoyin "Toyin" Salau, who was recently found murdered in Tallahassee after tweeting the details of her sexual assault.

Here's what you need to know:

Oluwatoyin Salau Fought Relentlessly For Black Lives

Toyin was originally reported missing on June 6 and was subsequently found dead alongside 75-year-old AARP volunteer Victoria Sims by authorities after being missing for eight days. The teenager was a vocal member of the Black Lives Matter movement in Tallahassee and relentlessly pulled TF up for victims of police brutality, including trans man, Tony McDade, who was fatally shot and killed by police officers, until the time of her death.

Oluwatoyin Salau Was Seeking Refuge Before Her Death

Twitter

Hours before her disappearance, Toyin penned a series of tweets that quickly gained traction and ultimately triggered a statewide search for the young activist. Toyin, estranged from family and without resources, explained that upon searching for refuge, she encountered a man who she initially suspected to be a good samaritan. The teenager shared that although she found shelter at a nearby church, she was ultimately forced to leave in order to "escape unjust living conditions." She wrote:

"He came disguised as a man of God and ended up picking me up from nearby Saxon Street. I entered his truck only because I carry anything to defend myself not even a phone (which is currently at the church) and I have poor vision. I trusted the holy spirit to keep me safe.'

Oluwatoyin Salau Tweeted The Details Of Her Assault

Twitter

Shortly after, Toyin described being violated, an experience that she became familiar with while navigating life as a homeless teenager. Her tweets continued:

"Once I saw he was asleep I escaped from the house and started walking from Richview Road to anywhere else. All of my belongings my phone my clothes shoes are all assumably at the church where I've been trying to track since I sought spiritual guidance/ refuge. I will not be silent. Literally wearing this man's clothes right now DNA all over me because I couldn't locate his house the moment I called the police because I couldn't see."

...Which Later Helped Authorities Locate A Suspect

Twitter

While information from her tweets was unable to help authorities find Toyin before her untimely death, they did help police locate 49-year-old Aaron Glee Jr., a suspect who is now being investigated for double homicide and was accused of sexual assault as early as a week before her disappearance.

"Mid 40's lives in a gray painted duplex apartment style house drives a white clean Silverado Chevrolet truck."

The 19-year-old activist was described by friends as "brave" and "passionate" soul who damn sure didn't deserve to die by the hand of a man whose freedoms she was fighting to preserve. Toyin's story is only one of the heartbreaking tales that reminds us that Black women are a national treasure that deserve to be protected and heard at all costs.

As we mourn the deaths of our many sisters who have been silenced by police brutality, domestic violence, and internalized misogyny alike, please don't forget to say their names:

Aiyana Mo'Nay Stanley-Jones

Dominique Fells

Korryn Gaines

Natasha McKenna

India Beaty

Nakia Crawford

Priscilla Slater

Sandra Bland 

Twitter

For more info on how to protect Black lives, click here.

Featured image by Twitter.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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