In Defense of Ma’Khia Bryant

Image courtesy of USA Today

It’s not fair that Ma’Khia Bryant’s final tragic moments of life on this earth were captured on police body cam. The dramatic footage deceptively casting her in a stereotypical role of a violent teenage Black girl, a criminal threat in urgent need of elimination. Or in the dangerously callous words of GOP racist shill, Black conservative grifter, and clout chasing celebrity troll, Candace Owens, who smeared Bryant as a “knife wielding maniac“, a dehumanizing label for an adolescent, would-be cosmetologist who posted Tik Tok hair tutorials.

But it’s not enough to try and boil down Ma’Khia Bryant’s 16 years of existence to a split second decision in a thinly veiled attempt to justify her state sanctioned murder. Her executioner, Nicholas Reardon, has been praised as a “hero” for purportedly saving a Black life, which is not even remotely true. And to be brutally honest, the only reason Nicholas Reardon’s actions have been hailed as heroic is not because he somehow managed to spare a Black life but because he took one. Which does not require heroic traits like bravery or courage. Just a badge and a gun.

Because, like his blue lives matter colleagues nationwide, Nicholas Reardon is a hired gun, a state agent who made a value judgment knowing that he had the full support of a legal system that disproportionately favors law enforcement. And, in doing so, normalizes the disproportionate slayings of African Americans who are more likely to be the victims of extrajudicial killings by police. In fact, Reardon’s initial inaction from the time he arrived on scene and exited the vehicle suggests the possibility of other nonlethal options, a missed opportunity. That Reardon’s only contact with Bryant was through his use of lethal force is very telling.


And for those of us who have seen police employ nonlethal means to subdue armed suspects (mostly white) in the midst of attacking law enforcement are being told to just accept that Nicholas Reardon had no other choice. That we should only listen to Black people like Don Lemon and Val Demings, both having defended the actions of Reardon. That we shouldn’t listen to Black celebrity athletes like LeBron James for tweeting his outrage at the murder of yet another African American by police on the very day of the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict. Essentially, snatching defeat from the jaws of a short-lived, hard earned victory of sorts.

But the greater tragedy in all of this is that I’m not the first person to write in defense of Ma’Khia Bryant’s humanity. And I know my words don’t have the power to convince the she-got-what-she-deserved crowd that a teenage Black girl in a moment of crisis is still worthy of protection, love, and understanding.

So then the real question becomes why would anybody need convincing?