Ma'Khia Bryant's Powerful and Heartbreaking TikToks Go Viral | 22 Words

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.

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.

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...

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.

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...

"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...

"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...

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.

"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...

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."

"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."