Amara mourns the death of Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old girl in foster care, who was tragically killed by a police officer in Ohio this month. We are devastated and share in the collective grief of a nation over this senseless loss of life. And we have a responsibility to do more than mourn her death and celebrate her life. We must continue to work to dismantle the racism that keeps Black kids in foster care in danger.
For those of us who advocate for more and greater community and state supports for kids and families to prevent family separation, promote reunification and to support and license foster parents, it’s especially heartbreaking that Ma’Khia was a Black girl in foster care who lost her life in this way. Her life, as the lives of all young people, contained endless potential.
Yet Black and Indigenous youth are disproportionately separated from their families and placed in foster care due to systemic racism and the impacts of poverty. Ma’Khia was one of those Black children. Child welfare, of which Amara is a part, is a system built on, and that continues to perpetuate, institutionalized racism. It’s incumbent upon organizations like ours to change this. We also know that this institutionalized racism is linked with other systems including criminal justice.
Kids and families experiencing the foster system, including Ma’Khia, are our friends, our neighbors, and our co-workers. They are a part of our community. Yet, as many kids and families impacted by foster care know, they are often ignored or shunted aside until something tragic occurs. The solution is not simply to react after the fact. Foster care organizations like ours must invest in and do the work of changing the systems that keep Black and Indigenous children at greater risk of being separated from their families and placed in foster care.
Ma’Khia’s life mattered. Ma’Khia’s family matters. Our hearts are with Ma’Khia’s mother, her extended family, her friends, and with everyone who knew and loved her. We pledge to continue to promote healing, racial and LGBTQ+ equity with children in foster care and families, and to do all we can to transform our child welfare system into a family wellbeing system every day.
We deeply hope you’ll check out some of the resources, articles, and advocates below for more information. If you don’t see something listed, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions so we can share them with the rest of our community.
Resources & Articles:
- How to process police brutality with your child (by Cam Lee Small, MS, LPCC)
- Ma’Khia Bryant and the Burden of Black Girlhood
- The foster care system and others failed Ma’Khia Bryant – and Black kids like her
- Opinion | In the Ma’Khia Bryant tragedy, foster care may provide a clue – The Washington Post