Justice is Healing
Justice is healing.
Ma’Khia Bryant was a Black girl who, as shared by her mother, was smart and sweet. On social media, she shared with us the joy and art of styling her curly hair, dancing, singing along to songs, and smiling warmly. She was everything a kid should be. But sadly, her youth and joy didn’t protect her from racism and the cruel police system. Somewhere, in the fleeting moment of relief that we may have felt when watching the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin, she was suffering the same fate as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other Black people before her. On April 20th, she was killed by police in Columbus, Ohio.
The accountability that one jury provided two days ago didn’t protect Ma’Khia Bryant, Adam Toledo, or Daunte Wright. The accountability for one officer in one murder is a drop in the ocean–one brief moment of relief–in centuries of oppression and violence perpetuated by white supremacy. It is also important to understand that this accountability did not come quietly. It was demanded by the millions that organized and protested in the streets, both nationally and globally. While Chauvin’s guilty verdict may be an expression of accountability, accountability cannot bring George Floyd back into his daughter’s arms. Accountability cannot save or bring back the lives of Black kids like Ma’Khia. Accountability cannot be mistaken for justice.
Therefore, I have trouble finding justice in Tuesday’s verdict. Justice can only happen when we are able to heal. However, we cannot heal in a system built to continuously harm us. We must continue to organize and fight for safety and justice that protects and heals Black people, Indigenous people, and other communities of color. We must generously invest in education, health and mental health care, housing, equitable accessibility, our environment, healthy food access, and community safety–and community power-building–if we want to heal the wounds of our communities and bring justice to those in pain. We must divest from the militant and carceral institutions that keep us in a cycle of fear, pain, and poverty.
Though she was taken so young, as we say her name and write about her, may she live forever. May the light and joy that was taken from Ma’Khia live on in Black girls and women as we do our hair, dance in our rooms, sing to our music, and smile on camera.
I, Josephine Hulburd Schultz, am joined by my colleagues, Danna Elneil, Alan Gouig, Kyra Kazantzis, Nick Kuwada, Loani Nguyen, and Marissa Martinez, in supporting and dedicating our work to unlearning and dismantling oppressive systems and building new healing systems that protect and heal Black people and communities of color.