Pistol-Packing Nurse Saves a Man’s Life in Detroit. On Black Women Who Own Guns.

Deborah Hughes, Detroit, Black Women, Guns

About one week ago in Detroit, Steve Utash was allegedly beaten by a group of 10-12 individuals while others watched after he got out of his car to aid a young boy whom he had hit with his vehicle. According to authorities, if it weren’t for the intervention of Deborah Hughes, a retired nurse who also carries a gun, he might not be alive today.

Fox 2 News Headlines

Fox News Detroit reports:

“Deborah Hughes lives across the street. The retired nurse may have saved the life of that driver, Steve Utash. She broke up the angry mob that was beating him. Detroit Police Chief James Craig knocked on the woman’s door and personally called her a ‘Detroit hero.”

Gun ownership is on the rise for women like Deborah Hughes. According to a 2013 report by Texas Department of Public Safety, while gun ownership is overwhelmingly white and male, black women are the fastest growing group of concealed handgun owners.

This reality presents a moral dilemma for liberal-minded feminist black women such as myself, and further illustrates the need for intersectionality in liberal politics and feminism.

In her piece, “Who will protect us? Why I’m still conflicted about guns as a black feminist” Renee Sims, who herself, grew up in Michigan, writes:

“This movement toward guns seems a rational decision for black women when you consider some of our experiences. Historically, black women have been left unprotected as a matter of law and custom, our bodies designated as commodities, used as “de mule uh de world” as Zora Neale Hurston wrote, and as sites for sexual violence and mockery. In an analysis of 2011 data, the Violence Policy Center reported that black women are murdered at rates three times that of white women and these murders usually involve a gun used by someone that the woman knows. Given these realities, some of us are pragmatic about self-defense. Even when we identify as feminist, as I do, we remain uncommitted to anti-gun feminism that erases our specific experience.” Sims then goes on to recount her own harrowing experience being the victim of a crime along with her mother.

As someone who lives in a city with some of the strictest gun laws in the country and has been privileged enough to live in communities I feel safe in, stories like Renee Sims’ and Deborah Hughes’ have caused me to see my once hardline stance on guns in a different way. Things aren’t always black and white, especially not for black women.