Both Policing And Foster Care Contributed To This 16-Year-Old Child’s Death

Demonstrators holding signs
Zain Murdock
May 21, 2021

The day 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant died, her sister called 911. “We got Angie’s grown girls trying to fight us … Get here now!” The police arrived, and shot Ma’Khia to death. 

But that incident doesn’t tell even half of the whole story.

Their grandmother, Jeanene Hammonds, was there when Ma’Khia died. For two years, Hammonds fought to become their primary caregiver. But she couldn’t afford it – non-relative foster parents get paid 10x more than relatives to take in children. This had intense effects on Ma’Khia.

Ma’Khia cycled through several abusive foster care situations.

For Black children, foster care can actually be traced back to slavery – and the abuses she suffered make more sense with this context.

The first orphanages to admit Black children forced them into “indentured servitude” in the 19th century. Others were sent to “juvenile reformatories” – child prisons. 

These developed into foster care – and, today, 36% of children in foster care are Black. They get abused at much higher rates, and their families are often unable to reunite with them.

It isn’t enough to say that Black children matter. We have to challenge both anti-Black systems: foster care and policing. Raising children as a village is historically a part of our culture that we have to fight for – before we lose even more of our kids!

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