We write this post for Bresha Meadows, on this, her 15th birthday. As Black and Brown organizers, many of whom have experienced violence in our own lives, it pains us that Bresha will spend this day incarcerated, rather than celebrating her life at home with her family. On July 28, acting in her own defense, and in defense of her mother, Bresha allegedly took the life of her father, Jonathan Meadows.
Jonathan Meadows was killed with his own gun — a firearm he is said to have repeatedly pointed at his own family, throughout the years of abuse they suffered. It is well documented that abusers with a history of violence are five times more likely to subsequently murder an intimate partner if there is a firearm in the home. Brandi, Bresha’s mother, was trapped in a cycle of violence, that both she and Bresha had previously made efforts to escape, but we all know that leaving an abuser can be complicated, difficult and at times deadly for abused women.
For the folx in the back: Brandi Meadows was already five times more likely to be murdered than a woman whose abuser did not own a gun, and 75% of abused women who are killed by their partners are murdered upon trying to end the relationship.
These are the odds Bresha was up against as she stared down the violence in her own home.
We live in a country that rarely offers financial or material escape routes for the abused. And yet, when a woman, or in this case, a child, whose skin is not a lighter shade of pale acts in their own defense, they are caged.
Jonathan Meadows death is a tragedy. It’s a tragedy that extends well beyond the loss of his life, and into the longstanding violence that provoked it. But both Bresha and her mother had — and continue to have — a natural right to survive.
Bresha’s mother calls her daughter a hero. And we agree.
Bresha, whensoever these words find you, we hope you know how many people believe you and believe in you. We are grateful for your life, for your survival and for your courage. Young Black girls, like you, have historically been treated as though you are not deserving of intervention or protection in the face of violence. The criminalization of your survival, and the survival of your mother, is not surprising, but it must be fought, for your sake, for the sake of Black girls everywhere, and for all our sakes — because none of us should be able to stomach living in a world where you are not free.
Many of us have our own stories of trauma and survival. We have our own memories of escape, or of moments we wish we could have escaped. Your resilience and strength inspire us. For survivors like us, there is no world in which we can sit still as you are kept caged.
So we write this post for Bresha, on her 15th birthday.
We share these words with love for both Bresha and her family, and with the disciplined hope of organizers who cannot stand to see a child caged for saving her own life, and the life of her mother. We write this because a child should not have to free herself from one abuser, only to be caged by another.
We write this to celebrate her continued survival and pledge to support those who are fighting in her name.
We encourage those who are able to donate to Bresha’s family in her time of need, as her legal expenses will no doubt be a major hardship. If you would like to send Bresha cards, drawings or letters of support, you can send those materials here:
Bresha Meadows c/o Ian N. Friedman, Esq. Friedman & Nemecek, L.L.C.
The IMG Center
1360 E. 9th Street, Suite 650
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
Or you can email images, letters or selfies with supportive messages directly to us, and we will print and send them for you:
We will send any loving material shared with us to Bresha.