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Alternative Title

Marissa Alexander's 20-year sentence for non-fatal self-defense

Publication Date


First Advisor

Samuel G. Ng

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Africana Studies


Marisssa Alexander, Stand your ground, Domestic violence, Mass incarceration, Critical race theory, Black feminism


Domestic violence precedes incarceration for many black women, inextricably linking the two events. The two events are linked by: the invisible victimhood of black women and the overcriminalization of black women--implications of their socio-political status, as black women. As black women, social power is limited and the protections provided by law are unavailable at worst, curtailed at best. This informs the domestic abuse paradigm, where their victimhood, quality of being recipients of violence, in the law remains invisible and trivialized by the state. Trivialized in the sense that minimal precautions are taken by police to protect black women, when it is the responsibility of the state as the presiding authority, to protect all citizens, especially endangered black women. As a result of domestic violence for black women not being taken seriously, abuse in home torments black women for excessive amounts of time, creating anger, resentment and rage which festers, and culminates in a final retaliatory act, usually a violent crime. The inability of authorities to attend to their realities, which I refer to invisible victimhood, in addition to the fixation on their crime illustrates the limited access to the law and legal self-defense. Such is the case of 31-year-old Marissa Alexander from Jacksonville, FL.


©2019 Michaella Mentu. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




58 pages. Includes bibliographical references (pages 56-58)