Opinion: I want a world where children can grow up

Ma'Khia Bryant smiles for a photo later posted on her mother's Facebook page.

Paula Bryant

Ma’Khia Bryant smiles for a photo later posted on her mother’s Facebook page.

Just like most other children her age, you could find Ma’Khia Bryant posting videos of herself on TikTok. She was a friend to her classmates, a daughter to Paula Bryant, an honor roll student with bright eyes and a warm smile. According to Paula, she had a “motherly nature” about her. Her business education teacher said that “she wanted to make her parents proud.” Her friends affirm that “she was smart, she was beautiful, she was amazing.” 

These are all the lovely qualities that should come to mind when people hear her name. Instead, she can no longer share videos on her TikTok account, continue to succeed in the classroom, and build new friendships, all because of a stranger. 

As a non-Black person, it is unlikely that I will ever have to fear for my life in situations with the police in this country. But when I look at Ma’Khia, I think of Ali Abu Alia, who was almost the same age as her when he was shot and killed by Israeli forces in my homeland, Palestine. When I look at Ma’Khia, I think of all the Black, brown, and Indigenous children, unprotected by the state, who have lost their lives to the police or “defense forces” in countries around the world. When I look at Ma’Khia, I see a girl who had so much life left to live for but had that taken away from her. 

I want to live in a world where Ma’Khia, Alia, and Adam Toledo had the chance to grow up. 

Unfortunately, we can’t do anything to bring them back, but we can honor their memories and ensure that no other child has to fear for their lives the same way they did. What does this mean? It means defunding the forces that took their lives.

There are numerous alternatives to policing and resources that you could find with a simple Google search, which is why I will not be delineating those here. Instead, I am only relaying that a world without the police is not only possible but necessary to create a future that values all children. 

I’m only 17 years old, and I hope that one day we will no longer have to hear about children dying at the hands of forces glorified by the media and the government while laughing in the faces of the people they’ve harmed. No 17-year-old, like no 16-year-old, like no child at all, should be made victim to the culture of violence that the U.S. upholds through its policing system. 

Call me radical if you want, but radical is exactly what we have to be when children being murdered has become the norm.

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