Heartbreaking TikTok's made by Ma'Khia Bryant are being shared all over social media, as people try to make sense of her death...
The videos have immortalized Bryant as a happy and carefree teenage girl.
Ma’khia Bryant’s life mattered. pic.twitter.com/Lk6cbDEzYx— Stella Safo, MD MPH (@AmmahStarr) April 25, 2021
Something that is rarely done.
Experts and psychologists say that these videos can help make meaning out of collective trauma...
Although they can also be retraumatizing for some.
On April 20, the day Bryant died, one of her TikToks started going viral on Twitter.
15 Year-Old girl, Ma’Khia Bryant Fatally shot today by Columbus Division of Police !!!!— Duece Duece ✨ (@DueceDes) April 21, 2021
RIp baby girl 💕🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/TfHXKfRo4u
She was shot by a police officer the same day cop Derek Chauvin was charged with the murder of George Floyd.
Bryant's hair care routine was viewed over a million times that day...
obviously i can’t stomach police footage but even just going thru ma’khia bryant’s pinterest and tiktok is wrecking me. she’s pretty much exactly like anyone from my group of friends from back in high school and various community college classes down to the rainbow crocs— Kofta Nostra (@ElSangito) April 21, 2021
Other TikToks showed her dancing and being care free.
Strangers said they were "gutted" to watch her videos after hearing about her death...
"She looks so innocent and wonderful. This shit is really tearing up my heart," one user wrote. "She reminds me of my best friend growing up," another said.
Being able to watch clips of someone's life after their death is a discomforting paradigm for everyone...
Social media experts and trauma psychologists say that this can help humanize victims of police brutality.
"For strangers, these [TikToks] serve primarily to humanize her — to remind ourselves and others that a real person was killed, not someone who can be boiled down to a statistic or a line item in a police report. And not only a real person, but a child," said Michael Poulin, an associate professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo.
"Finding a sense of meaning or purpose can help people manage the impact of potentially traumatic events. To the extent that joining Ma'Khia's killing to the cause of anti-racism and police reform functions that way for people, it is potentially helpful on a psychological level."
These videos can also be a "call to action" to create an anti-racism discourse.
Three white officers say, "blue lives matter" to a group of black residents at the scene where police shot and killed a 15-year-old girl. pic.twitter.com/TGkejEiaho— scott keeler (@_WhatRiot) April 21, 2021
Munmun De Choudhury, an associate professor at Georgia Tech who's conducted and published research on post-traumatic stress and social media, said that sharing past videos of those who have died has become common these days.
However, she was struck by the videos of Bryant last week...
Thank you for sharing THIS kind of a video— 🇧🇧 🏳️🌈 Circa 2020(1) (@jay_deloria) April 21, 2021
"What stood out to me is the young age of the person who died. She had a whole life and she did not have a chance to live it," De Choudhury said about Bryant's viral TikTok. "This particular video — and I'm not a TikTok user — but what stood out is she was [a] normal girl. She was like any girl of that age, sharing a hairstyle, she was having fun, she was enjoying herself, she was enjoying her hair.
"The mundanity of [that TikTok] is what the message is here: People killed every day by the police, these are individuals in the Black community, they are normal human beings ... they want to go about their own business, but clearly they see that their interactions with law enforcement is not the same as everybody else."
De Choudhury added that there is an important message these videos can share...
I can’t stop crying as I think about Paula Bryant grieving the murder of her daughter Ma’Khia at the hands of the @ColumbusPolice she called seeking help. She did what y’all tell us to do. And she paid with her life. #NoJusticeNoPeace— Nancy Kirkpatrick (@nancyskirkpat) April 21, 2021
"The video is valuable because it tells us it's happening to normal people," she said. "These videos can be a way to communicate to people who are not Black, to make them realize that it could have been you. The only reason it happened to her is probably because she's Black."
People all over social media shared how watching Bryant's TikToks have reminded them of their own family members...
This honestly is making me cry cuz my Pinterest is built the same. Like, being black in America should not be a death sentence— so far away ⁷𖧵🥀🕷 (@berriejinnie) April 21, 2021
1/ When I watched Ma'Khia Bryant's TikTok videos I saw my middle niece in her. I saw Ma'Khia's joy, creativity, potential, and humanity. No child's life should be judged and dissected based on one day and one event. Some of the hot takes about Ma'Khia have been truly awful. pic.twitter.com/7ox1MDgFxS— Michael Hollingsworth (@mike4brooklyn) April 24, 2021
Watching these tiktok videos of Ma’khia Bryant is so heart wrenching. She reminds me soooo much of my teenage nieces. I can’t.— somebodys mama (@Dulcinea_Detwah) April 21, 2021
I’m thankful for Ma’Khia Bryant’s tiktoks. The media tries so hard to dehumanize and age black children.— Imani (@knowthecurl) April 21, 2021
We shouldn’t have to prove their youth, but I hope it helps.
Nah Ma’Khia Bryant’s tiktoks are really painful to watch. She’s every young black girl. How do you not see yourself in her?— asha (@halalhottie) April 21, 2021
Experts have urged people to be mindful of how much of the content they watch and post...
De Choudhury said that sharing her TikToks can be a powerful tool for social justice, but can be painful for those who knew her.
"For her family members, we don't know how they are feeling. It can be a difficult time for them," she said.
Paula Bryant tells me her 16 year-old daughter Ma’Khia Bryant was an honor roll student and a sweet child. Ma’Khia was shot and killed by a @ColumbusPolice on Legion Lane at 4:30p today. pic.twitter.com/0FfbQVEgSD— Lacey Crisp (@LaceyCrisp) April 21, 2021
"Social media is such a powerful tool for accountability. At the same time, so much attention and so much limelight at a time when the family is mourning can be so difficult to balance."
She added that some choose to grieve in different ways...
Oh god this is horrific. She's a kid, no kid should be getting shot by law enforcement. Young lives keep getting taken too soon 💔— 🖤ᴍ.ᴇ.ᴠ🖤 (@MEVthe1st) April 21, 2021
That these immortalized videos can force us to face difficult feelings over and over.
"Reminders of a loved one who was lost can be unsettling — clinicians are familiar with 'anniversary' effects, in which birthdays or death anniversaries can be especially painful," he said.
"In the short term, social media reminders may be distressing, serving as painful reminders."
Alison Holman, a professor in nursing and psychological science at the University of California in Irvine, said Bryant's TikToks show the "burden many members of the Black community carry" in this country about racialized police violence."
Ma’Khia Bryant’s tiktoks are so joyful— Larissa Kennedy #PrayforSVG 🇻🇨🇻🇨🇻🇨 (@Larissa_Ken) April 21, 2021
She was only 16 and her life was cut tragically short by the police, minutes before yesterday’s verdict
That verdict wasn’t justice
Justice will be eradicating systems that produce Black death
Justice will be Black children growing old pic.twitter.com/Rp12S2BLRV
"The burden many people in the Black community carry goes far beyond this one incident ... That's the shame of this society, that we've allowed this to persist, We can't bring it upon ourselves to stop this from happening, and that's a shame. It's a huge stain on America. That we can't see how damaging this constant drumbeat of Black people being killed by police is."