Stand Your Ground But For Who? The Criminalization of Black Women in Self-Defense Laws


  • Kayla Mae Blount


"Stand Your Ground" is an American statute based on the legal notion of "castle doctrine."14 Stand Your Ground is the protection of the responsibility to not retreat and stand your ground, granting any citizen the right to use lethal force without fleeing from a "reasonable" threat. However, the implementation of these laws has been marred by racial bias and systemic discrimination, resulting in unequal outcomes for Black people, particularly women, who find themselves in situations when self-defense is required. In evaluating multiple cases of black woman failing to successfully claim self-defense under Stand Your Ground laws, we seek to understand how racial stereotypes of Black women as violent, fearless, and deserving of punishment, as well as racial discrimination against black women in our legal system, contribute to state statutes being applied unequally to defendants who both initially claimed immunity under Stand Your Ground. Stand Your Ground legislation should be used to empower all individuals seeking self-defense protection rather than to impede justice, especially for those who are most vulnerable to violence and injustice in our society.