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  • Writer's pictureAshley Gray

Who Protects Black Girls?

I have to be honest with y'all. It's been hard to cry over a police sanctioned death in a while because I've been afraid that if I let my heart break I might not be able to function. I'm certain I have some form of PTSD after my involvement in protesting the murder of Michael Brown Jr. I cried over Sandra Bland. I cried hard. We were the same age. She was vocal and informed, I am the same. And when Breonna was killed for sleeping while a Black woman- that will always sit with me. Haunts me even. I check my door multiple times before bed because I need to foster some sense of security even if it is false.

Well, that leads me to unpack what a hell of a week we've had as Black women. The news of the three guilty charges against that racist, vile, piece of shit Derek Chauvin brought lots of Black folks hope. I sat through that news with a bit of indifference. One on hand, a white police officer had finally been charged for their crimes but on the other hand, I felt weird about crying tears of joy when someone literally got murdered. And let's be honest, it wouldn't have been the case without the bravery of a Black girl, Darnella Frazier. But last night, the tears came and they didn't stop. I must've cried for three hours in my bed wondering if this is just too violent of a world for me to add to. Who protects Black girls?


We went from celebrating the accountability we've been advocating for all along to news of the killing of another Black girl, Ma'Khia Bryant. Initially, the news seemed to slowly trickle out and then the flood gates opened. A teenaged girl who was threatened, grabbed a knife to defend herself against multiple other girls. A police officer arrived and within seconds, left four bullets in a 15 year old girl.


Many folks are defending it. Now's here why this feels so hurtful, heavy and down right fucked up- much of this conversation has been littered with "nuance" that is usually filled with respectability and white patriarchal supremacy. In less than eight hours, we went from abolish policing as we know it to "he had a split second decision to make".


Something about that feels like we aren't willing to sit with a few things.

  1. What is the role of protecting and serving?

  2. Did her identity as a Black girl impact his decision making?

  3. Why didn't he use non-deadly force?

  4. Why the hell did all the folks filming and talking (namely adults) just stand around?

  5. Was 4 shots really necessary?

  6. What does police training say about cases like this?

  7. Why is that police officers can figure out how to safely detain white men who do mass shootings, carry large weapons and more?

  8. What would I have done if I were Ma'Khia?


That sits with me heavy. I, too, would have grabbed whatever weapon I needed if I felt like my life had been threatened.


Even Black girls who make mistakes deserve protecting. No one protected her. Not one adult. Not a police officer. Not another child. No one.


It hurts to see so many Black men defend the murder of a Black girl. This newfound wave where everyone is now a legal analyst and everyone can justify split decision making sounds real familiar. It sounds like what white folks say in the comment section of every news station every time a Black boy/man is murdered.

  1. He should've complied

  2. They said he had a weapon

  3. Cops have to choose between their safety and others

  4. Cops are not trained to use non-deadly force. They shoot to kill.

  5. The cops didn't know he was a child.


That hurts like hell that Black women have always been on the front lines. And let's be honest, we'll continue to be. And to see Black men use their social media to justify the killing of a Black girl breaks my heart. Like it does when we can't talk about sexual assault against Black women. Like it does when we see so many murders of Black women and their children at the hands of intimate partners. It's either silence or strong and wrong.


I'm grateful for the Black men on my timeline who have held space either way because they care.

And finally.

Ma'Khia should still be here. We failed you. You deserved our protection, baby girl.

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