A Rutgers University associate professor of gender and Africana studies argued Thursday that Ma’Khia Bryant is being “adultified” because she was “a big girl.”
Responding to MSNBC host Joy Reid, who suggested that people believe 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant deserved to die, professor Brittney Cooper said, “Look, the arguments for our movement have never been that black people have to be perfect in order for them to deserve dignity, for us to have good policing, for us to be viewed with humanity, for cops to take a breath before they literally get out of the car, guns blazing.”
“This has never what the argument for the movement for black lives has been is that you just get to kill black people, particularly when they’re not being perfect,” she continued. “I think about how perfect…the prosecution had to be in order to get the conviction for George Floyd. It had to be impeccable. They had to leave no stone unturned. If that is the standard, then no black person is really truly going to be safe if we cannot be having a bad day, if we cannot defend ourselves if we think we’re gonna get jumped, if we call the cops and they can’t show up and tell who the victim is, and who the perpetrators are, and they can’t use their training to adjudicate regular old everyday community conflict.”
“But beyond all of that, what are we gonna do about the way we don’t understand black girls as girls? Ma’Khia Bryant was a child…and the way that she has been talked about as this, you know, because she was a big girl, so people just see her as the aggressor, they don’t see her humanity,” Cooper charged.
“They have adultified her. We turn black girls into grown women before they even are able to vote,” she added. “I have watched folks across the political spectrum really defend this and say…and empathize with the officer, say that he didn’t have any other set of choices.”
“What are we training police to do if they are not actually showing up on the scene and making the situation better for all involved?” Cooper continued. “If you can’t figure out how to deescalate a 16-year-old, even with a kitchen knife, when you’ve got a gun and you’re a grown man, you shouldn’t be a cop.”
On Tuesday evening, protests broke out in Columbus, Ohio, after reports of a police shooting in the city. Ben Crump, a lawyer who can frequently be found at the forefront of police shooting cases, rushed to declare that Bryant was “unarmed” when she police shot her.
“As we breathed a collective sigh of relief today, a community in Columbus felt the sting of another police shooting as [Columbus Police] killed an unarmed 15yo Black girl named Makiyah Bryant. Another child lost! Another hashtag,” Crump tweeted.
As we breathed a collective sigh of relief today, a community in Columbus felt the sting of another police shooting as @ColumbusPolice killed an unarmed 15yo Black girl named Makiyah Bryant. Another child lost! Another hashtag. ✊🏾🙏🏾#JusticeForMakiyahBryant https://t.co/9ssR5gfqm5
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 21, 2021
According to video footage obtained shortly after the event, however, Bryant appeared to be holding a knife and was about to stab another teenage girl before a police officer intervened.
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) April 21, 2021