Ma’Khia Bryant’s community—GUILTY

By Reginald Williams

The frame of thought that promotes that Black people are not monolith couldn't be more evident in discussing the tragic death of Ma'Khia Bryant.

The line in the sand is drawn. Black folks on both sides of the aisle are clear in their belief that the cop either had no choice but to shoot Ma'Khia, or it was unnecessary for him to shoot her. I heard the often hyped-up, animated Umar Johnson summons the ghost of the coon card to describe any Black person who believed the cop had no choice. I won't engage in either argument. Instead, I'll introduce another degree of logic. But before I do, allow me to state some facts:

• The police most often treat Black people as suspects rather than citizens.

• The police, in general, do not value the lives of Black people.

• In too many situations, the police, usually the aggressors, often use fear as reasons for employing deadly force.

• Use of force is commonly a white police officer's method of de-escalating conflicts in communities of color.

• Demonstrating empathy to Black people is the exception, not the rule for police officers.

• Police are much more empathetic to violent white men than they are non-violent Black men. Check the stories of Dylann Roof, Kyle Rittenhouse, and Robert Aaron Long.

• Rarely will police respond to disturbance in Black communities the way they respond in white ones.

• Police are professionals at majoring in minor offenses.

• Young, inexperienced white officers are assigned to communities of color to build their careers. In contrast, senior white officers are assigned to affluent white neighborhoods to live out their final years leading up to their retirement.

Knowing all that we know about policing and how, even in non-violent situations, police demonstrate a predisposition to accelerate minute incidents, why were they called to usher in calm in Ma'Khia's conflict? Why were pro-violent police, an entity that possesses a long and existence history of violence against people who do not look like them, be invited into the neighborhood's confusion? Did the person who called the police forget about George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Saundra Bland, or Breonna Taylor? But, according to several accounts, Ma'Khia was responsible for calling the police. I'll expound on this later.

While folks are debating the shooting, my issue is: the police had no business being there in the first place. Now, let's debate that. I’ll start.

1. There’s a male in the video, dressed in a gray hoodie, participating in the melee. As one young lady is pushed to the ground, with the officer approaching, that grown a** male literally tried to kick or stomp the teenage girl. I haven't heard a bit of debate about that irresponsible act. It's been reported that the grown a** male was Ma'Khia's father. Although I can't confirm the information, my question is, why—knowing that police do not value Black life, was dude not a resource for calm in that turbulent situation. No, rather than attempt to restore some stillness, he poured gasoline on a smoldering flame that eventually turned into a 4-alarm fire. He is complicit in her death—ain't no debate.

2. Supine in her front yard after being shot four times, Ma'Khia's feet, decorated in a pair of yellow Croc's designed with additional vibrant colors, incessantly twitched as life slowly eluded her body. The cop who killed Ma'Khia hovered over her, trying to fend off death's eventual presence. A brother, possibly in his late '30s or early '40s, stood just feet away, appearing to be dazed by it all. His displeasure was evident as he tried to gain a sense of understanding from the cop as to why he felt compelled to shoot her. Where was his presence prior to the police officer's arrival? As he advocated for her in her final moments of life, why didn't he advocate for calm when she was still alive. When a man's presence is absent, the void is often assumed by predators, who sometimes are pro-violent police.

3. In addition to the absence of men, Ma’Khia experienced a void of community champions. Her death didn't happen on a random street corner in Columbus; it happened in her neighborhood. All the folks who appeared on the news crying, saying how sweet she was, you mean to tell me not one person, one neighbor or two, or possibly three could not have intervened—long before she had 'old girl' in the pink hemmed up against the vehicle trying to shield herself from what appeared to be an imminent threat? Instead of attempting to restore calm, they stood tall in their role as videographers hoping to win their Oscar for their viral production or they took pleasure in watching the free MMA match. The beef between Ma'Khia and those girls took place in the neighborhood, and not one person from the neighborhood acted neighborly. They failed her. So miss me with those supporting arguments about superhero school cafeteria workers and educators stopping knife-wielding students without incidents. Those folks from Ma'Khia's community did absolutely nothing—well, they stood around.

As I stated earlier, reports say that Ma'Khia called the police claiming there were girls with a knife "tryin' to put hands on her." While I have no proof, I believe that those girls were probably the instigators of the entire series of events. I am of the opinion that the situation escalated quickly, and Ma'Khia, protecting herself, converted into the aggressor. Filled with rage, Ma'Khia's adrenaline most likely ramped up. She responded to a perceived threat. Her cortisol level elevated, and a drop in her dopamine levels probably complemented the elevation. Ma'Khia was in full-blown stress, and no one from her community helped her. No one called a school cafeteria worker or a teacher (I know that was petty), so she fought, and she died senselessly.

So; we can remain engaged in a regressive argument about the cop’s action. But as for me and my house—I will stand and boldly proclaim that Ma'Khia's community failed her. If that cop is guilty, they are all guilty. The community’s willingness to stand by and do nothing before the cops arrived is criminal, especially knowing how police, police communities of color.

Oh, and one last thing. I won't even introduce the thought that suggest that maybe calm should have been restored while Ma'Khia was still in the house.

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