Pennsylvania is the Most Dangerous State in the Country if You’re a Black Woman

Pennsylvania boasts a rich history, diverse culture, and picturesque landscapes, but it also harbors a troubling reality for black women. A recent study by the Violence Policy Center exposes a disconcerting trend: Pennsylvania leads the nation in the rate of black female homicide victims. This stark statistic sheds light on the pervasive violence and discrimination faced by black women in the state.

The Report: When Men Murder Women

The annual report, titled “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2018 Homicide Data,” scrutinizes gender and racial dynamics surrounding female homicide victims in the United States. Utilizing data from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report, the study delves into the age, race, weapon, relationship, and circumstances of each victim and offender.

In 2018, the U.S. witnessed 2,237 female homicide victims, with 517 being black. The national rate of black female homicide victims was 4.4 per 100,000—more than double the rate of white female victims (1.8 per 100,000). The report underscores that 92% of black female victims knew their assailants, and 56% were killed by a current or former intimate partner.

Disturbing Rankings

Pennsylvania topped the state rankings with a rate of 11.3 black female homicide victims per 100,000 black female population. Following closely were Missouri (10.9), Indiana (10.6), Oklahoma (9.7), and Louisiana (9.5). Individual cases in Pennsylvania, such as a 24-year-old shot by her ex-boyfriend in Philadelphia, spotlight common threads of domestic violence, gun violence, and suicide in female homicide cases.

The Causes: Racism, Sexism, and Poverty

While the report doesn’t provide an exhaustive explanation for Pennsylvania’s unfortunate distinction, it highlights contributing factors—racism, sexism, and poverty. Racism subjects black women to discrimination and violence, impacting their access to education, healthcare, employment, housing, and justice. Sexism perpetuates stereotypes and violence, undermining dignity and autonomy. Poverty further compounds vulnerability, limiting access to support and resources.

The Solutions: Awareness, Advocacy, and Action

To address this crisis, the report calls for comprehensive, intersectional approaches. Recommendations include:

1. Improving data collection on female homicide victims, particularly by race and ethnicity.

2. Strengthening enforcement of laws like the Violence Against Women Act and expanding resources and services for black women.

3. Raising awareness, challenging stereotypes, and supporting black women’s leadership in advocacy.


Pennsylvania, as revealed by the Violence Policy Center’s recent report, is a perilous state for black women. This alarming trend underscores the urgent need to confront racism, sexism, and poverty. The proposed solutions aim to mitigate violence and enhance the well-being of black women, striving for a state and society that respects their dignity, rights, and safety.

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