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Vol. 3 (2022): Reverting the Gaze: Resisting Humanism & Hegemony in the West

Who Holds the Knife

April 5, 2022


Ma’Khia Bryant was killed by a police officer on April 20, 2021, at the age of 16. Ma’Khia held a knife, as the officer pointed his gun and fired four shots. Police officers across the globe have taken the lives of many since, and if the current “justice” system is not transformed, they will continue to take many more. Through the following poem, I ask the reader to reflect on the violence and collective suffering that is perpetrated through state power and policing. I ask them to look upon the world through the lens of Foucault’s biopolitics and Mbembe’s necropolitics, to recognize the insignificance of Ma’Khia’s knife within a social order that marks us all as either deserving of life or deserving of death. By including the voice of white supremacist carcerality within my account, I encourage readers to consider how they hold this knife; that is, how they help to fix this violent, punitive system in place. Most importantly, by inviting readers to participate in the healing of collective wounds, I offer an abolitionist call to action. Content warning: this poem contains discussion of state violence, police brutality, and blood.