(Unedited) This week my students and I engaged the Bresha Meadows case.
Bresha Meadows is a 15-year-old girl who is charged with aggravated murder for killing her father. She and her family were subjected to domestic violence for over 20 years at the hands of her father.
The context in which I work: As a therapist/counselor, I implement a school-based counseling program with high school girls. As a part of what I do with the gyrls, I include critical consciousness and popular education in psycho-education, and I welcome both of these into this therapeutic and counseling realm. Therefore, due to confidentiality I can only keep it surface on the session content, but I’ve tried to offer the universal responses.
So, in every group, the same things happened: I started off with “I have a story to tell you…There was a 14 y/o girl who killed her father, one morning, while he slept.” They questioned what made her kill him, and each group I turned the question back on them: “Why do you think she killed him?” They were ALL spot on with the reasons. They also identified the “they” that they’re referring to is the system—the legal/judicial system.
I shared more of the story, her now being 15 years old and being in juvenile detention, but the system wants to charge her as an adult. In each group, at some point, they asked, “What state did this happen in…?” “What race/color is she?” “How can she go to jail when it was self defense?
They challenged the faulty logic that the system would rather Bresha waited for him to hurt her or her mom again, and then she should defend herself. They named this faulty logic as both “dumb” and victim-blaming. Moreover, the possibility of her going to jail for life was ridiculous to them. It was also unrealistic, if she was already scared for her life that she’d WAIT until he was attacking/harming them again to then act.
They referenced how if a white person does something, the system says it’s because of a mental illness. The perpetrator would go to a psych hospital for a minute, they’d get out and live their lives happily ever after, but that’s not true for Black people.
Where they had varying opinions was on the “consequences & repercussions.” Their complex thinking brought morals into play. Killing someone is wrong, BUT he was abusing his family and she had a herstory of trying to get help. They acknowledged the layers of the situation.
Oh and each group brought up the Standford rape case where the judge made his ruling citing the perpetrator’s age and lack of prior convictions as reasons why he: “…didn’t want to ruin the rest of the perpetrator’s life.”
What about her life, they inquired?
As for Bresha Meadows, no one wanted her to be tried as an adult, and no one wanted her to be in jail, for life. The follow-up work will be on: What should “happen” to Bresha?
Also, they decided to participate in the Oct 5/6 Days of Action.
We’ll anonymously write/draw letters of support to Bresha. I will write a cover letter, but my students will not be identified and they’ll use aliases in their signatures. We also decided to decorate a school bulletin board, in October, to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month and raise awareness about Bresha. Since October is also National Bullying Prevention and Awareness Month, we discussed how DV/interpersonal violence is a form of bullying.
Lastly, as we move forward, I’ll include Marissa Alexander, Joyce Quaweay and Jessica Hampton in our discussion and use the creative process to further “unpack” everything about these cases and their thoughts/feelings around them.
#sheBLOOMSblack #BlackGyrlVisible #FreeBreshaMeadows