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Ma’Khia Bryant deserved our love, what are we going to do now?

by Naba’a Muhammad

(Follow @RMfinalcall on Twitter and @RMfinalcall & @Dopebusters on Instagram.)

Like many of you, I am hurting now over the death of a 16 year old Black girl, Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio who was shot to death by a White police officer in Columbus, Ohio. There was clearly a conflict going on and in the aftermath of it all, a Black girl is dead. She isn't coming back.

Mykhia photo (2)It brings tears to my eyes and hurts my heart. But honestly, that's not enough. It's not enough for me to bemoan her loss and recite the personal trauma I feel, the outrageous likelihood studies have shown Black children have for being killed by police, nor the way Black girls are misjudged, mistreated, targeted, stereotyped and done wrong. It's not enough for me to rage about whether she should have been shot, or the countless videos where we see armed Whites, outraged Whites, disrespectful Whites and dangerous White attack, threaten, assault and disrespect police officers and go home safe. It's not enough for me to say training, ain't the issue. Because officers Black and White deescalate situations when dealing with out of pocket, literally hatchet swinging White folk. It's not enough for me to comment on how conflict, savagery and disrespect are the order of the day in America, rewarded by America, promoted by America, taught by America, engrained in American culture and are a heinous hallmark of how we, Black folk, treat and mistreat one another.

The loss of this girl, this girl, is hurtful on so many levels: I have two beautiful daughters. Her last name is the same as my family name and the last name I bore before I came into Islam. My late uncle married, had children but we lost contact with his widow and my cousins. I wonder if Ma’Khia Bryant is literally related to me in some way. I want you to not have the sole image of her to be a teenage girl in a frantic situation. Look at her Tik Tok videos or Google images of her so you can see her lovely, little face. 

I've never been a teenaged girl but I have raised two and by God's Grace whatever the challenge, we have made it thus far along the way and I have been with them every step of the way. They are mine, regardless of divorce, money or no money, friction with their momma, health problems, spiritual struggles or personal wins and losses. They are wonderful, beautiful, intelligent girls. They are all things that encompass how family members described Ma’Khia Bryant. My youngest, who is 15 years old, knows this mantra that I regularly recite to her: "Give yourself time." It started when she either nine years old or 11 years old and was dealing with a difficult parental divorce and tough circumstances. Give yourself time. You won't always be 11 years old I told my little love. Ma’Khia Bryant should have had time to grow through whatever challenges she had to overcome, whatever lessons she had to learn and time to embrace opportunity to thrive.

She doesn't have time. Her time is gone. My "trauma" won't bring her back. My "pain" won't restore her. My "tears" won't revive her.

But my so-called pain isn't about her. In truth, it's about me. How much pain do I feel? Do I feel enough pain to get involved and stay involved? Do I have enough room in my heart for someone's life, someone else's pain, someone else's needs? Do I have the courage to intervene when I see savagery among us? Do I have enough concern to create and support services, alternatives, options, pathways to help our young people stop dying at the hands of cops and the hands of one another? Do you?

We've seen Ma’Khia Bryant's life lost. What are we going to do? I don't care if you challenge police policy and racism, I don't care if you promote and engage in conflict resolution. I don't care what you do. Do something. I don't care if you reach out to your knuckle head nephew, your wayward and prodigal sons and daughters, or the little brother and sister on the block who is already on the right path. Do something while you and I have time.