From the Washington Post today, the following is listed as “News” but it’s from the Post’s feminist nook “The Lily:”
Some said it exemplified ‘adultification bias’ against the Black 16-year-old girl who was fatally shot by police
Apr. 21, 2021
… Body camera footage shown at a news conference on Tuesday night shows what happened when officers arrived on the scene: Ma’Khia appears to have lunged at another person before a police officer fired four times. A knife is briefly visible both in her hand and then next to her on the ground where she fell after being shot.
“She’s a [expletive] kid, man,” someone can be heard yelling in the background.
Earlier that night, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther (D) took to Twitter to share news of the killing, calling Ma’Khia a “young woman.” Replies quickly poured in, noting that Ma’Khia was a child — not an adult.
At the news conference a few hours later, Ginther acknowledged Ma’Khia was a child: “The city of Columbus lost a 15-year-old girl today,” he said. “This young 15-year-old girl will never be coming home.”
But some still took to social media to criticize his initial characterization of Ma’Khia, calling it “adultification bias” — a form of discrimination that uniquely plagues Black girls, leading them to be perceived by adults as less innocent and more adult-like than their White peers, according to a widely covered 2017 Georgetown study. …
The 2017 Georgetown study found that adults’ biased perceptions of Black girls result in their being suspended from school at higher rates than White girls, and being more likely than both Black boys and their White peers to be disciplined for minor infractions, fighting and disobedience. Underlying these perceptions are stereotypes of Black women that originated during U.S. slavery and positioned Black women and girls as unable to conform to expectations of traditional White femininity, the study notes.
Advocates, scholars and doctors characterized the adultification bias emerging in the aftermath of Ma’Khia’s death as a form of misogynoir — a term coined by Black feminist scholar Moya Bailey. It’s a way to describe how “anti-Blackness and misogyny combine to malign Black women in our world,” Bailey wrote.
“The sexism that [Black girls] face is going to be different than what White girls experience and the racism that they face is going to be different than what Black boys experience — that’s because of the racist and sexist lens,” said Ijeoma Opara, an assistant professor in the school of social welfare at Stony Brook University. “We as a society view Black girls as grown women who aren’t capable of being talked to and respected and protected as children.”
To Opara, the shooting exemplified this, given the familiarity of the situation: kids fighting.
Uh, I’ve seen a lot of fights among kids, but I’ve never seen anything like this:
By the way, after Knife Girl knocks down the first girl, but then is dissuaded from going in for the kill on the first girl by the policeman in the vicinity, a big black man comes over and kicks the girl on the ground in the head. What the hell was that? Has that guy been arrested?
The policeman did a remarkable job of not being distracted by the sight of a man kicking a girl in the head and staying focused on the greater threat: Knife Girl.
But police aggressively responded to Ma’Khia because of sexism and racism, she argued.
“Children fight all the time, regardless of race, regardless of class level,” she said. “When we think about Ma’Khia or other Black girls like her … they’re not given the chance to be in situations that could be de-escalated.” …
The mayor’s tweet in the aftermath of Ma’Khia’s killing didn’t help the situation, according to Marline Francois-Madden, a social worker, therapist and doctoral candidate in family science and human development at Montclair State University, who said Ginther’s characterization of Ma’Khia as a “young woman” on Twitter made the incident sound like a dispute between adults rather than between kids. That kind of adultification bias in the aftermath of a Black girl’s death can have mental and emotional consequences on other Black girls watching the situation unfold, she added.
“It makes other Black girls feel like they don’t know if they’ll be able to be protected,” said Francois-Madden, who is also the author of “The State of Black Girls.” …
It’s also crucial, Fenton added, for journalists not to reinforce adultification bias when they cover Ma’Khia’s death, pointing to a video of a woman who identified herself as Ma’Khia’s aunt and told reporters: “Either you report the truth, or don’t report nothing. She was a good kid. She was loving.”
Ma’Khia’s mother, Paula Bryant, said she was an honor roll student and that she had a “motherly nature about her.”