Crystal Cavalier Keck: Racial Equity In Policing Requires Better Data Collection

Aug 3, 2020

This summer, WUNC is meeting some of the North Carolinians who are "Calling for Change" in policing. Crystal Cavalier Keck is Indigenous and also of European and African descent. She is a member of the Occoneechee Band of the Saponi Nation and founder of "Missing Murdered Indigenous Coalition of North Carolina." The group runs a database and accepts reports of missing Indigenous people.

For Cavalier Keck, racial equity in policing includes better data collection and investigations when Indigenous women are murdered or disappear. As a PhD candidate, she's working to gather that data.

In this installment of our series "Calling for Change," Keck reflects on her work from her home in the Little Texas area of Mebane, overlooking the farmland that’s been in her family for hundreds of years.

Interview Highlights

Crystal Cavalier Keck on how she experiences race in Alamance County:
It's kind of hard, because when I was growing up, we never talked about race. We didn't talk about if we were Black, we didn't talk about if we were white didn't talk about if we were Indian. I did start doing our family tree. And it was just like my ancestors just sprang up out the dirt.

Cavalier Keck on her work collecting data on missing or murdered Indigenous women:
Indigenous women are three times more likely to go missing or murdered. We know that data from the reports that we have gotten from out west. From Seattle, there's also organizations in Arizona, that deal with the missing, murdered Indigenous women cases. So I can't really tell you in North Carolina, it could be four times more likely because we just don't have that data. But I do know there have been women as far back as 1970 that are Indigenous that have been missing.

Crystal Cavalier Keck stands for a portrait at her home in Mebane, N.C. on Thursday, July 30, 2020.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Cavalier Keck on how police classify Native Americans:
I found out that police do not classify Native Americans as Native American. They will just visually look at you and classify you as white, Black, or Hispanic. It's all white or black with them.

Cavalier Keck on her hopes for the future:
I just see myself as a person who wants more for their community. What I do want is the culture to come back. It's been so hidden for so long. And it has a negative connotation that you can't embrace your culture. Or you can't be indigenous and Black and you can't embrace your indigenous if you're Black. And I want people to not be afraid to do that. And I see that is happening. But I mean, I want to see it more.