Kwauhuru Govan allegedly killed a teenage girl and a young gay man in New York City in 2004 and 2005. Join JV as they discuss the case and rage about homophobia, transphobia, and the toxic masculinity that keeps us all in chains.
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Hey y’all, so today is gonna be one of those episodes that is a little bit shorter and a little bit angrier. This case is bonkers, and where it’s going to lead us is… well, it’s gonna be complex and uncomfortable. However, first, I want to talk about a review that I got. It’s a 2 star review, left after someone listened to the William Bonin episode. So, I’m gonna be brief, and I’m not going to comment too heavily on that person, but I will say this: this show is a true crime show, of course, but part of the point of this show is to educate. What may come off like tangents sometimes are actually written into the show. Like being in the middle of a case, and then talking about death positivity or the different kinds of sex work, or the effect of sexual racism and what that looks like. Those very frequently have a lot to do with what we talk about here. By their nature, they are always a part of the show. And that isn’t likely to change. If I decide to not go into the graphic details of the murders, it usually is because I couldn’t stomach that part of the case because of the graphic nature of the crime. This is why, for those cases, I include links to my research AND other shows that covered the case, who may have gone into those details. If I’m not comfortable discussing something, it won’t come up on here. This show is meant to be a bite-sized summary of a case. It won’t always be the most detailed, but I aim to give you a different perspective on a case, and I will continue to do that. Anyway, onto the facts of this week’s case.
This week’s killer is a black man. We are talking about him, because on of his victims was a gay man. Kwauhuru Govan was a strange dude, according to those who knew him. People would say that he’d walk out of his house with a snake around his neck, with contacts in to give him snake eyes. People still described him as a good father who used to play with his two young children but he was definitely prone to crime and violence.
From age 18, based on court records, he was in and out of prison for both big and small crimes. Once, in Prospect Park, he was caught by the police with an illegal ninja star in his pocket, which, I’m not gonna lie to you, is NOTHING compared to the blades and daggers I have in my house and occasionally carry on my person. My first thought though was, “at least it wasn’t a gun” but… well… that’s not that meaningful. Anyway, a few years after that, he was sentenced to a three-year term in prison for armed robbery at a deli in Central Florida. Clearly this is a man with a screw loose.
In 2017, Govan at age 38 found himself accused of his most serious crime: the vicious 2004 murder of a teenage girl, Sharabia Thomas, from Bushwick whose body was dumped in an alley, naked, bruised and stuffed inside laundry bags. That accusation, made this fall, led quickly to another: that in 2005 he had also killed Rashawn Brazell, a 19-year-old gay man of color from Govan’s Brooklyn neighborhood and spread parts of his decapitated body in trash bags in a subway station and a recycling plant. Rashawn’s head has never been found.
As of this moment, Govan hasn’t been convicted, so I’ll keep y’all posted on that. But I wanted to bring up a quote from DailyMail article. “It was learned on Friday that Govan told police he did not associated with Rashawn Brazell even though they grew up on the same block. Govan reportedly said that because he was a Jehovah’s Witness, he believed Brazell to be ‘an abomination’ because of his homosexuality. ”Because Rashawn was an abomination according to the Bible, and that because of his faith the defendant was not permitted to associate with gays,’ according to court documents cited by the Daily News.”
So… let’s sit with that for a second. <big sigh> Here’s the deal: This part is for atheists: I’m not going to say anything about the religion itself. Because religion on it’s own does not influence anyone to do wrong. I know that there are a lot of people out there who like to get all high and mighty about being atheists, and I’m going to need y’all to take several seats. You don’t get to belittle people for believing in something, just as you don’t get to be belittled for not believing in anything. Calm down. The center of most, if not all religions is love and connection, and that is never a bad thing.
This next part is for people with faith: Your religion is not the only one on the face of the earth. It is the one that works for you, and that’s all well and good and wonderful. However, the tennants of your faith and rules about consequences and wrongdoing/sinning, only apply to YOU, the person who believes in that faith. Your rulebook is not the same as everyone else’s and that is okay, because it is YOURS. So it doesn’t matter at all that someone else is gay and whether your copy of the bible says anything about that being wrong or whatever, because it ain’t got shit to do with anybody but YOU. Keep your negativity about my life to yourself, and remember, who I love and who I take to bed is entirely none of your concern.
A lot of people have asked me about why the black community has such a long deepseated history of issues with gay and transpeople. My first response is: they don’t inherently have that issue. How do I know this? My black mom loves and supports her queer non-binary child. However, the disenfranchisement of black people has had consequences. The treatment of black people during slavery, and right on up til now, has had consequences. During the slave trade, black men were separated from their families and literally moved around for their breeding potential, much the way we do with purebred dogs. White slaveholders were obsessed with the size of black mens penises, how fertile they were, how hard they got, watching them fuck, etc. We know this because of actual journals and letters from the time period. It’s historical fact that the hypersexualization of black men has been going on for time immemorial. Runaway slaves, upon being executed, would also be castrated, or emasculated. Emasculation means to just straight up cut off all the genitals.
Now, because black folks were literally groomed under threat of whips and murder into needing to be even more tough and masculine than their white counterparts, that lead to this part of culture where being feminine is seen as weak. That exists across all of society, white and black, but it is particularly bad in black spaces. So, transwomen (male to female trans folks) are seen as a threat to a person’s masculine identity. Being gay is seen as a defect. That’s why we wind up with Transwomen of color being murdered with great frequency: because we’ve created a society that says femininity is less than.
You know who should be angry about all of this? Everyone. Literally everyone. Black men should be furious that these views were given to you by Racist and sexist people and that all this was put on you without your say in the matter. Women of all shades should be pissed because you are NOT and never have been less than, and fuck the white male patriarchy (and black male patriarchy) forever saying so. Queer people should be entirely furious that we are dying because of someone else’s bullshit opinions about our lives. White cis men, you should be furious that there is a system in place that makes you out to be a beneficiary of our suffering, and you should be fucking pissed at ever single asshole who is still perpetuating that system with murder, rape and sexual violence against women, other men, trans folks, etc. You should be fucking furious at your friend who catcalls women, calls them all types of bitches and hoes, when his dumb ass wouldn’t be here without the kindness and grace of literally hundreds upon thousands of women. You should be furious at your friend who says black people are violent, ignorant and lazy, when their dumb ass owns multiple firearms, has a shitty work ethic, and keeps talking out their ass. You should be fucking furious when your dumbass friend misgenders a transperson, calls them not real or whatever, when your friend could never even begin to understand what it’s like to live in DAILY fear for their fucking life. We should all be furious, and guess what? A lot of us ARE furious.
Anyway, I’m gonna chill out, but I want you all to think about what I said, and I want you to do your part to educate yourself on how you can help your fellow humans be better. We need to do better, we MUST do better, otherwise, we will perish.
Check the articles. I’ll see you next week. And remember…. Stay safe out there.