“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx
May 10, 2021
This was SPARK’s editorial in our workplace newsletters during the week of May 3, 2021.
Ma’Khia Bryant was killed, shot by a Columbus, Ohio police officer. She is one more child, dead at age sixteen, the human cost of this system’s inability to provide for and protect all its children.
Before she was even in her teens, Ma’Khia was taken from her mother by Franklin County, Ohio, Children Services. She and three siblings were placed with their grandmother—only to be ripped out of that home in 2019 when the county declared their housing inadequate. Separated from family, Ma’Khia was sent 80 miles away to a group home in Dayton. Early this year, she was removed from the group home, sent to Columbus and placed with a foster parent who had her younger sister.
Being taken away from a parent at a young age is traumatic. How could it not be? And Ma’Khia Bryant, like so many others, was not just taken from her parent, she was bounced around, put in the care of one part of the system, then another.
Police say they are expected to deal with situations they aren’t equipped to handle, problems facing children shuffled around like this. They say poverty is a problem, social workers are needed.
The Ohio Department of Social Services says it doesn’t have enough funds to provide for all the care and services that are needed, not enough money to make sure the grandmother, for example, could have had “adequate housing” for the four children. Social Services says the state legislature doesn’t give it the money needed.
The Ohio state legislature says people don’t want to pay taxes, so it doesn’t have enough money to fund all the social services, public services and schools that are needed.
In fact, every part of the system has its excuses. But Ma’Khia Bryant is still dead—Ma’Khia, and how many others like her throughout the country.
Every one of those excuses is an admission that this system is unable to provide a decent life for all its people; an admission it can’t even protect the most vulnerable.
That system has a name. Its name is capitalism, and it is driven by a drive for profit that pushes state legislatures and the federal government alike to systematically reduce funding for the range of services needed by the population—in order to hand it out to prop up profits for big corporations and pad bank accounts of the very wealthy capitalist class that owns the economy.
It’s the same system that gives cops a gun and, with it, a license to kill. The conviction of George Floyd’s murderer does not change this basic reality: the police exist in order to maintain the class division under capitalism. They not only protect the wealth accumulated at one end of the class scale; they also enforce the poverty which is its necessary result at the other end.
Sometimes that license to kill means that a young girl, put in an intolerable situation, trying to defend herself, is shot down like a dog in the street.
There are people who would fault the foster parent. Why was she not there supervising Ma’Khia and the other children when problems happened? Or the grandmother. Why didn’t she provide “adequate housing”? Or the mother. Why didn’t she take care of her children?
All of those questions are only cowardly ways of running away from this basic truth: in capitalist society, wages are often not high enough to provide for children. Social Security is not high enough to provide “adequate housing” for four children.
And so some children are thrown away.
There is something intrinsically wrong with a system that puts less value on the care of children, than on the profits of an already insanely wealthy class that seeks to make more profits.
The work to take care of children who need care—shouldn’t that be valuable in and of itself? No matter who is taking care of them, under what conditions—shouldn’t they have the means to do it?
There is something essentially wrong with a system that cannot do that. This capitalist system is what should be ripped out and thrown away. Not the children.