Featured, Race & Politics

America Owes Bresha Meadows A Debt That Will Never Be Paid

In just a few months, Bresha Meadows will finally be out of prison. However, it won’t be due to her case being dismissed, or being granted bail. Moreover, she will not be directly returning home. Instead, due to accepting a plea deal, a 15-year old Bresha will have her time served commuted and sent to a juvenile mental health facility — all for having the audacity to defend her family at a time when no one else would.

Thousands, if not millions, of words have been written about the tragic situation that has befallen the Meadows family. You can read plenty at the official site for Free Bresha here. There are also a bevy of activists, scholars, and influencers who have spent the last year emphasizing the grave miscarriage of justice that Bresha Meadows has undergone, such as PrisonCulture.

It is hard to watch these events play out and not be reminded of the simple fact that Black girls are robbed of their childhood at such a young age. Before they have the chance to make the choice to embrace their womanhood, they are asked to step up time and time again and make sacrifices at great cost to their livelihood and their humanity. For the brave action of protecting her family at the hands of near-constant abuse by almost all accounts, Bresha nearly paid the cost of the rest of her life in prison — and is now expected to be thankful at the so-called liberation a plea deal is supposed to afford her. A plea deal that is contingent upon her admitting that she, a young girl who was doing her best in a toxic and life-threatening situation, somehow committed a crime.

It is an injustice that a settlement like this can even remotely be considered a victory, and that the prosecution has declined to withdraw charges in light of all the circumstances coming to light and the groundswell of support. It is unfathomable that a justice system that claims to pride itself on due process can rest on its laurels at the cost of a Black girl’s childhood, and simultaneously scoff at the notion that the right to a fair trial seems to be one that does not apply to Black people. It is difficult to come to peace with the fact that Bresha’s eventual freedom comes with an eternal scarlet letter on her chest; a guilty conviction that will follow her forever. And even if the records are eventually expunged and sealed, the articles and documents marking her guilty plea will continue to persist. Also, the law in Ohio will continue to remain that any child over the age of 14 is capable of being tried as an adult for a felony.

Bresha’s story (and the several others like hers) is a continual reminder that the rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are civil liberties afforded to the (white) men and women with the means to demand and expect it, while the rest of us are expected to lie in wait for the tiny trickles of generosity that manage to slip their way down and continue to accept the status quo. Bresha was unjustly robbed of an entire year. A whole year of enjoying freedom from the terror at home. A whole year of potentially deciding that she could apply to college, or take the SATs. A whole year of movies with her friends, or preparing to slay in Twitter Prom pictures. The hypotheses are neverending, but the conclusion remains: America owes Bresha a debt that will never be paid, and the Meadows family will never be the same as a result.

Shamira Ibrahim

Shamira is a twentysomething New Yorker who likes all things Dipset. You can join her in waxing poetically about chicken, Cam'ron, and gentrification (gotta have some balance) under the influence of varying amounts of brown liquor at her semi-monthly blog, shamspam.tumblr.com

  • This situation is almost too fucked up to comprehend. That child is a hero and has probably received emotional scars that will never go away. Who are these prosecutors that refused to drop this? They should be run out of town immediately.

    • cyanic

      The legal system does not wavier ever in our favor.

      • What could they possibly have to gain by torturing this child?

        • cyanic

          They don’t see us as youth. They criminalize black kids in their heads. Then when one is placed in the system regardless of the circumstance they feel validated in their assumption.

          • I hate to agree but I can’t argue.

            • cyanic

              The survey that recently confirmed what we already knew whites see us as super human. They see our kids as an adult threat to them. This girl’s femaleness ain’t enough to garner empathy for her.

              • grownandsexy2

                The dangers that black kids face are firmly rooted in history.

              • Charlito Brown

                I need for them to decide whether they see us as superhuman or subhuman. Choose one please. Double consciousness is already enough to deal with.

                • cyanic

                  If we’re so subhuman why do they stay preoccupied with our choices? How we express and conduct ourselves consumes them.

          • Blueberry01

            Yup. Confirmation bias.

        • D-Nice

          The maintenance of their inflated egos. The prosecutors simply don’t want to look like they don’t know what they’re doing and give in to pressure – especially pressure from people who are supporting a black person. And, since she actually shot her dad, as justified as it may have been, they can save face (in their minds) by not fully exonerating her.

          What stands about this case is that Bresha is so young, but many abuse victims have suffered a similar fate for defending themselves, their family, their children.

          • Had the mother done it, we probably wouldn’t even know her name.

        • Brown Rose

          They don’t see Black children as human. I agree with Cyanic.

        • Yahmo Bethere

          A “W”. Nothing more.

    • cakes_and_pies

      To be able to discharge their humanity to prosecute a child who was defending herself and protecting her family is sick and depraved.

      • Hands need to be caught.

        • Lindashill


          Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours & have longer with friends and family! !sv30c:
          On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. Follow this link for more information
          !sv30c:
          ??
          ??;?? http://GoogleFinancialCashJobs320ShopBagGetPaid$97/Hour ????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::::!sv30c:….,….

        • Sharonlfields


          Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours & have longer with friends and family! !sn13c:
          On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. Follow this link for more information
          !sn13c:
          ??
          ??;?? http://GoogleFinancialCashJobs313TopSoundGetPaid$97/Hour ????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::::!sn23c:….,……

      • M Kamara

        “discharge their humanity” – that’s a perfect way of putting it.

      • Y’all know those folks didn’t see a 15yo victim… they saw a grown monster with fangs and talons.

        I HATE THEM.

    • Brown Rose

      Have to say. If it was a white girl, she would have been exonerated.

      • Duff Soviet Union

        I doubt it. The law is awful towards all victims of domestic violence, and I think this is one such type of crime that doesn’t discriminate by race.

  • miss t-lee

    I first heard about her case on Democracy Now a few months back.
    It was so upsetting, and I still can’t believe it’s come down to this.

  • FeeFee

    This is such a sad situation all around. This young women has been through so much in her short life. Coming from an abusive home to prison under these circumstances, will have a profound effect on her. I understand why the prosecutor initially filed due to the dad being asleep, but given the abuse that’s come to light, I guess they saw this as some type of compromise. Really sad all around.

    • raul

      Self defense laws are really ill equipped to handle this kind of situation. I mean letting folks claim self-defense over presumed future acts is a pretty slippery slope to get on and where self-defense stops and vegence starts isn’t real cut and dry either.

      Maybe prosecuting 14 y/o kids as adults is 99.9% of the time a bad idea.

  • RaeNBow

    1. i really want to know why the prosecutor didn’t reduce the charges/ plea her down earlier. thinking the deceased’s family might have political pull?
    2. Apparently Bresha’s aunt (her mother’s sister) is a domestic violence detective with the Cleveland police. Wondering what kind of outreach/intervention may have been tried in those preceding 2 decades. (not to place blame but it just would have been great to have a record of the deceased’s abuse toward the family).
    3. this might be an unpopular opinion, but perhaps a mental health facility is not an awful place for her to be? If her mom wasn’t mentally/emotionally able to get out of the abusive situation, is that the best place for the minor child to return to after such a trauma? is the mother also seeking counseling?

    idk, there is a lot to unpack here, and it seems like there is a lot missing. i just can’t believe the prosecutor would be so unwilling to budge on this case, especially with the national media attn unless something else was stirring

    • mahoganylawlady

      With respect to your second point, the abuse was hidden because the family was cut off from everyone but once the sister became aware she stayed trying to get the police in the town involved. They didn’t live in the same place. Sister even tried to take in Bresha and the courts forced her to go back home because her mom, brother and dad all said she was lying.

      With regard to them not reducing the charge, the fathers siblings were pushing for prison. It’s more sad to me that everyone around this girl sit and did virtually nothing so she felt this was the only way to freedom.

      • RaeNBow

        thanks for this. i was googling a lot of different articles to try to grasp the background. this also upset me that the adults in Bresha’s life couldnt help her. smh. like, this is insane. i read one article where a cousin attested to the abuse but i’m like, “WHY DIDNT YOU REPORT IT?!?!” idk man

    • She’s totally gonna need to do some mental health work. She was abused, just killed her father and then sent to prison and she’s a child. That’s basically torture. If you want to create a monster, that’d be how to do it.

      • TheUnsungStoryteller

        Exactly. I think Shen does need help. However, I don’t think the right action would be to place her there AFTER She has been in prison because she killer he really father. What if she associates the mental health facility with her punishment instead of the trauma she faced?

        • It depends on her current state, which I imagine is not ready to be outside.

    • cdj

      I hope the mother does get some counseling. I feel like I should have some compassion for her, having been in an abusive situation before myself (nowhere near as bad as this) but it really burned me up to see this girl’s mother on camera talking about how her daughter is a hero. Her daughter shouldn’t have had to save her. It should be been the mother sitting in a cell and the child walking around free.

      • PDL….HE still working on me

        Well, I came away from the story with this same feeling.

      • Lara

        Yes

      • TheUnsungStoryteller

        For real. Especially since it was her responsibility to report that man in order for her child to be safe.

    • cakes_and_pies

      3. I don’t think that’s an unpopular opinion. Even is she didn’t have to serve time, a family court judge probably would have required her to be in some form of facility. That’s for her own mental hygiene.

    • I_AmU

      ‘murica is feeling itself due to 45 and its desire to return to the “Good ole days”. Resilient’s are viewed as less than human.

    • STL Orca

      I absolutely agree with you on point #3. That poor girl (and her mother, and her siblings) is going to need some real, ongoing therapy to deal with this trauma. I just…I just wanna give her a hug, you know? Why should anyone, but especially a 15 year old child, have to shoulder all of this? WTF is wrong with folks?

  • Wow. She was defending herself and this? The “law” is ridiculous.

    • In the eyes of the law she was supposed to just take it like this is the 1900s or something. Crazy.

    • AzucarNegra

      She is a black girl, emphasis on black.

  • Looking4Treble

    We continue to lose our babies and our young to injustices of all stripes perpetrated by a system that seeks to destroy us and other POC and stamp us out utterly, or to simply ignore us until it is too late to help while we listen to empty pronouncements about “how sad it is”. All ultimately based on a social construct called race that ultimately means little when measured against what it means to simply be human and us all having the right to be treated with dignity, care, consideration and respect.

    It makes no d@mned sense. When will this madness end.

  • KeciB

    This story hits close to home. My oldest brother was arrested as a teenager for finally fighting back against my stepfather who was abusing my mother. We suffered as his hands for many years and finally when one of us kids was old enough to fight back, it led to my brother having a criminal record. Looking back now, I’m thankful he didn’t kill him although he came close; that would have truly ruined his life as our justice system could not care less about the circumstances.

  • Duff Soviet Union

    Police officers are allowed to get away with murder because they “feared for my life” while under no actual threat, but a Black girl who literally did fear for her own life and her mothers and acted out of self defense gets locked up? The jig.

    And while I agree that she does need mental health care, locking her up in such a facility is garbage. It also comes with about a $70K bill which her family could never afford to pay under normal circumstances (it’s being crowdfunded by people who support her cause).

    This whole thing just sucks and is so sad. Frankly the prosecutors are terrible people and I have zero sympathy for the “I’m just doing my job” defense here.

    • Liz

      Couldn’t have said it better. This whole situation is disgusting and is a constant reminder of how backward and harmful the American justice system is.

      • Duff Soviet Union

        And the worst thing is, by some measures, she’s one of the “lucky ones”. Her bills are being crowd funded, she’s “only” in jail for a year compared to 15+, her record will eventually be expunged etc. There are so many like her we don’t hear about who don’t get any help and just get disappeared forever.

  • Val

    This reminded me of the Cyntoia Brown case. Cyntoia was a 16 year old who had been abused and forced into prostitution killed a man in self defense and was given life in prison. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_Facing_Life%3A_Cyntoia's_Story

    Here’s the documentary about her

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ7kJx2pTx8

    • I_AmU

      The messed up thing is there are thousands of these atrocities committed against Resilient children and women we’ll never be made aware of nor have an opportunity to be helpful. We don’t know what someone’s gone/going through unless they or someone else tells their story.

    • I_AmU

      She’s a child!

    • I hope she doesn’t die in jail. This was a hard piece to watch.

    • Zil Nabu

      This was super sad.

      • LMNOP

        I’m watching it now, it is so sad. And she is an especially young seeming 16 year old, she looks about 12, and they sentenced her to life??

    • cakes_and_pies

      In my woman’s mental health care class I learned that children of color who are prostituted out are often charged with solicitation while the Johns get a slap on the wrist and a white child is considering a victim of trafficking/sexual assault while the Johns have the books through at them.

      • pls

        Interesting.

  • I_AmU

    “..the rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are civil liberties afforded to the (white) men and women..”

    This answers any and all questions.

More Like This