Ma'khia Bryant, Police Brutality

An Offering For Ma'Khia Khi’Riana Ty’lea Bryant Who Deserved To Live

Writer Amber J. Phillips explains why 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant, the Black child killed by police, deserved to live.

5/11/2021 2:31:00 AM
Ma'khia Bryant, Police Brutality, Foster Care, Amber Phillips

Ma’Khia Bryant, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and Erica Garner were all viewed as big Black people when their lives were stolen by the state. The biggest and Blackest of us are being targeted and killed.

Writer Amber J. Phillips explains why 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant, the Black child killed by police, deserved to live.

On April 20th, woven in-between the breaking news of Derek Chauvin’s conviction in the murder of George Floyd, TikToks of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant made their way onto our Instagram feeds. Her face was now precious enough to be turned into shareable graphic art and her life was important enough to be the subject of thoughtful prose on Twitter. 

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It’s a rare, extraordinary occasion when girls who look like Ma’Khia become the center of our attention. After a few clicks, I was brought to my knees with grief when I discovered that I was seeing Ma’Khia Bryant because she had been killed by Columbus Police Officer Nicholas Reardon. 

Advertisementhad a passion for lipgloss, bright colored Crocs, and pranks. She was young, Black, and fat. When her face appeared on my social media timelines, I saw myself along with every Black girl I’ve ever loved in her laid baby hairs and smile.See, I’ve been a fat Black girl with a bad attitude since I was a child. To be clear, I wasn’t just your standard fat baby. Everyone loves a fat baby. I was a fat baby, toddler, teenager, and now adult.  headtopics.com

Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, I celebrated the fullness of my midwestern-born body in the reflection of my mother’s thighs that I used to hold onto when she danced with my twin sister and I to our favorite song, “The Double Dutch Bus” by Frankie Smith. 

“I saw myself, along with every Black girl I’ve ever loved, in Ma'Khia's laid baby hairs and smile.”As I grew up, I was confronted with the limits of my abundant preteen body after a Limited Too catalogue arrived at my house. Limited Too wasthe

clothing brand for girls when I was kid. I was obsessed with the cute little pink polos, blue jean skorts, and camis with the built in bras that everyone in my school seemed to have before me. I flipped through the catalogue to select the clothes I was going to beg my grandmother to buy me. And with the sweetness that only my granny could deliver, she informed me that Limited Too didn’t carry my size. My granny opened her beloved JCPenny catalogue, flipped to the “Women's” section and told me to pick out something for school from her catalogue instead. As you can imagine, there weren’t any bell bottom jeans or t-shirts with “Angel” printed across the chest in this part of the catalogue.  

AdvertisementI quickly learned what I could and couldn’t do as a “bigger” child. I balanced the art of staying in a child’s place while also being hyper aware of the things I was “too big” to do anymore. I was learning how to shrink myself to be worthy of just enough care and protection from adults. And when they failed to offer me the type of tenderness we should give to all children, I was expected to do it for myself. headtopics.com

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Ma’Khia Bryant was a child who spoke like a child, and thought like a child. But from the moment that police officer fired into a crowd of adults to murder her, I watched as our world refused to understand her as a child.Even after a year of heightened protest to demand that the police stop executing Black people and passing it off as public safety, I’m amazed that our communities still have a hard time expanding this universal demand to include all Black people. Even a Black girl who did something as common as carry a self-defense weapon to protect herself. She was a child, on her own, in the foster care system. The world taught her to fend for herself and then killed her for it.

At 31 years old, I still see myself in the life of Ma’Khia.Because make no mistake, under this white supremacist delusion made possible by capitalism and grotesque anti-Blackness, we are all vulnerable. We can’t pick and choose which Black lives deserve protection and which don’t. If we aren’t fighting for all of us, we aren’t fighting for any of us.

Advertisementrecently reportedin great detail how the police, the State of Ohio and the broken foster care system as a whole failed Ma'Khia Bryant. But these are not the only failures. We fail Black girls like Ma’Khia in life and in death when we refuse to center their humanity and right to live full lives. We fail Black girls like Ma’Khia when we refuse to show tenderness to all children. And most importantly, we fail Black girls like Ma’Khia when we refuse to interrogate the ways we carry out harm on our own bodies and the bodies of Black folks we don’t see as a perfect vessel for care and protection. 

Individuals carry out countless offenses against fat Black bodies on a daily basis and it’s killing all of us slowly but surely. It’s devastating that the final offense was Ma’Khia Bryant being killed by the police. “The biggest and Blackest of us are being targeted and killed. Therefore, we must center the voices of the biggest and Blackest if you intend to see the other side of liberation.  headtopics.com

”Ma’Khia’s knife and foster care profile shouldn’t reduce how much we fight for or care about Ma’Khia’s life. If anything, it should increase our concern for how vulnerable and helpless and unprotected she must have felt. We shouldn’t need to know all of the details to know she didn’t deserve to be gunned down by police and then blamed for her own death.

Ma’Khia should still be here. She deserved to be here and be loved well, simply because she was born. She deserved to age with resources to make her life easier, despite her circumstances. Ma’Khia, like all of us, deserved to be treated with tenderness in a world where she wouldn’t have felt the need to protect herself because she was already made safe. Ma’Khia deserved to feel safe. So many systems failed to make that her reality.

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AdvertisementMa’Khia Bryant, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and Erica Garner were all viewed as big Black people when their lives were stolen by the state. The biggest and Blackest of us are being targeted and killed. Therefore, we must center the voices and organizing strategies of the biggest and Blackest if you intend see the other side of liberation. We will never get there if we don't eradicate anti-Blackness and fatphobia.

We must listen to the teachings of Sonya Renee Taylor who proclaims“The Body is Not an Apology,” but is deserving of love and tenderness right now, as it is. If we can love ourselves in our bodies that carry all of identities and complex lived experiences beyond meaningless scales of value, then maybe we can love other bodies just as fiercely. If we stop making apologies for our bodies, our Blackness, and how we’ve had to fight to survive the ever present myth of white supremacy, then maybe we can extend that same type of understanding all Black people but especially our Ma’Khias. 

We all should be students of theFat Futures Collective Read more: Refinery29 »

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What a poorly written piece. Too many falsehoods to even mention. They will give a “journalism” degree to just about anyone and then some rag like Refinery, employs them. Black lives only matter when they’re killed by a cop. Black on black crime, silence. I wish Ma'Khia cared more for her friend's safety

Oh please, this girl had a knife in her hand ready to stab someone and her piece of shit dad was kicking some girl in the head. Good day

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Younger sister remembers Ma'Khia Bryant: 'She wanted to grow up and be great'Ja'Niah Bryant lost her best friend on April 20 when her older sister was fatally shot by a police officer outside their foster home in Columbus, Ohio. He best friend was a knife murderer...that relationship won’t last BlackLivesMatter fixnigeria Self-defense member that..... Nicholas Reardon, who has been on the force for approximately 18 months. Interim Chief Michael Woods👁👁

Younger sister remembers Ma'Khia Bryant: 'She wanted to grow up and be great'Ja'Niah Bryant lost her best friend on April 20 when her older sister was fatally shot by a police officer outside their foster home in Columbus, Ohio. In an exclusive TV interview with ABC News' Eva Pilgrim for 'Good Morning America,' Ja'Niah described 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant as her 'other half.' 'We did everything together,' Ja'Niah, 15, said. Yahoo, now let's see some stories on the girl who was moments away from getting stabbed by Ma'Khia Bryant. What kind of civilized person would name their kids Ma'Khia and Ja'Niah. Reminds me of a Negro woman who craved Jello while in labor and named her twins Lemonjello and Oranjello. True story. So charge the other girls. I'm fine with that. However, this girl still screwed up by attempting to murder someone directly in front of a police officer. Clearly not a good idea.

Ma'Khia Bryant's Journey Through Foster Care Ended With an Officer's BulletCOLUMBUS, Ohio — The voice on the 911 call is a teenage girl’s, and it is quavering, as if she has been crying. “I want to leave this foster home,” she tells the dispatcher. “I want to leave this foster home.” When two police officers arrived at the home in Columbus, Ohio, they reported later, they met an agitated ninth grader, Ja’Niah Bryant, who told them that the fighting at 3171 Legion Lane was getting worse and worse. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times They said there was nothing they could do. Twenty-three days later, Ja’Niah called 911 again, telling the police that she and her older sister were being threatened by two young women who used to live at the house. Officers arrived in the middle of a melee outside the house, and one of them fatally shot Ja’Niah’s 16-year-old sister, Ma’Khia Bryant, who was lunging at one of the women, brandishing a steak knife. The shooting, which occurred moments before a jury in Minneapolis convicted Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd, released a new wave of anger over shootings by the police. To calm the furor, the Columbus police quickly released body camera footage, which showed some of the fight outside the house and, they said, demonstrated that the officer had acted to protect the other woman. But Bryant’s tragic death was also preceded by a turbulent journey through the foster care system, which had cycled her through at least five placements in two years — after her own mother was found to be negligent — despite efforts by their grandmother to reunite the family. Ohio places children in foster care at a rate 10% higher than the national average, and child welfare officials here are considerably less likely than in the country as a whole to place children with their relatives. Black children, like the Bryants, account for nearly one-third of children removed from homes — nearly twice their proportion in the population. A review of Ma’Khia Bryant’s pathway through foster care shows that it fai Media trying to change the narrative of this story so the aggressor becomes the victim. 🤨 So we should be sympathetic towards people that use deadly weapons and try to stab and kill other people now because she was in foster care? Look the only criminals killing other people in this story are cops. As usual. stopfirearms