A brief initial message for FosterClub’s Lived Experience (LEx) Leaders and all young people from foster care:
Sometimes words fail to capture the depth of our sorrow. We are with you with you in your grief, anxiety, anger, and sadness. We understand Ma’Khia’s tragedy will trigger many of you who see your own story in hers. We encourage you to practice self-care, and to reach out for support if you need it - whether to friends, mental health practitioners, or to FosterClub.
We are providing a virtual mural for young people and allies to leave messages for Ma’Khia Bryant and her family (including her foster care fam). FosterClub will deliver the mural on May 1. We invite you to this space to leave messages, poetry, images, or other sentiments.
FosterClub Statement Regarding the Shooting of Ma'Khia Bryant
On April 20, 2021 Derek Chauvin was convicted on all counts for the murder of George Floyd. Minutes before the verdict was read, 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was tragically shot and killed by a Columbus, Ohio police officer, Nicholas Reardon, despite reportedly having called the police for help. Help was anything BUT what she received.
Instead, Ma’Khia, who is Black, was shot and killed by a white policeman. A pattern that keeps repeating. Over and over again.
This continues to happen. This has happened for too long.
Unjust, unnecessary, and routine, fatal shootings of Black people at the hands of police officers continue to take place across the country. We must work to make sure this violence stops.
At the time of her death, Ma’Khia was in foster care with Franklin County Children Services. Her death is particularly painful for FosterClub’s members, board of directors, staff, and constituents because it is a devastating reminder that youth and families of color, especially Black people, are often failed by the systems that are supposed to support them. As the national network for young people in foster care, a core tenet of FosterClub’s work focuses on how placement in the child welfare system disproportionately and unjustly impacts children, youth, and families of color. However, today, our statement focuses and addresses another system that equally destroys families, and is often held unaccountable, the criminal justice system. Both systems were designed to serve, protect, and assist, however, more often these systems do just the opposite. And for BIPOC families the harm is even more profound as the systems intended to help actively destroy the family ecosystem.
Decades of systemic racism contributed to Ma’Khia’s death. Would Ma’Khia still be alive today if she were a white teenager? Likely, yes. Heartbreakingly, yes.
Ma’Khia’s death is painful, and particularly so for those of us connected to foster care. Many across the FosterClub network see their own story in Ma’Khia Bryant’s story. This was a child who was already experiencing trauma because of being in foster care. It’s reported that she, like many young people, suffered from bullying in a group home. It is likely she had experienced racism in a system that we know disproportionately removes children of color from their birth families.
It is abundantly clear that something must be done to address the way police officers across the country govern and respond to Black people and non-Black people of color. Unfortunately, we know that Ma’Khia’s death will not be the last at the hands of those employed solely to protect and serve the communities they work in. Something has to change. We need to collectively dismantle structural and institutional racism - in both the justice and the child welfare systems.
FosterClub stands with Ma’Khia Bryant’s family and her peers. We remain committed to elevating the voices of youth, like Ma’Khia, so that youth with lived experience play a central role in reshaping the very systems that often oppress them. The very system(s) that tragically took Ma’Khia Bryant’s life.
Executive Director, FosterClub