We all deserve to feel safe and secure in our communities, no matter our race, our origin, or our zip code. But this week, after a jury delivered accountability for the murder of George Floyd by former police officer Derek Chauvin, Black communities barely had time to breathe a sigh of relief. News broke that in our own city of Columbus, police had killed Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year old Black girl within 11 seconds of arriving on the scene of an altercation.
Ma’Khia’s life, future, and light deserved a chance. Instead, they were cut short as a result of a system of violence that devalues Black bodies, and fails to see the humanity of Black girls — instead viewing them as a threat.
In our schools and communities Black girls including Ma’Khia are over-policed and under-resourced. They experience higher rates of punitive treatment and discipline. They are vulnerable to “adultification” bias by teachers, law enforcement, and other authority figures who therefore offer them less protection and more punishment. We believe that Black girls deserve joy, celebration, and protection like all children.
As a public policy organization, the Women’s Public Policy Network stands in solidarity with the protest movement and the calls for change because we understand the time-tested link between people’s uprising and policy reform. Without reforms, our nation will never dismantle the racism that harms the lives and futures of the women, girls, and families for whom we advocate every day. Racism and sexism are inextricably linked.
Too often, we fail to center the experiences of Black girls and women in the conversations around racist violence perpetrated by law enforcement. The violence against Black girls and women, particularly transgender Black women, cannot remain invisible in these efforts to call for justice and reform our systems. Our demands for change must include the end of racist violence against Black girls and women, and our calls for justice must be vocal and vigilant for Black girls and women killed by police: Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Atatiana Jefferson – and now Ma’Khia Bryant.
There is no justice until all women and girls, Black, brown, or white, can live in a world where their lives are valued, where they are given the chance to live out their dreams, and where they can thrive – free from the threat of police violence. We remain committed to helping to build this future for Black girls and women across our state.