13-Year-Old Girl Dies After Fight With Classmates & Ladies, We Need To Talk

Human Interest

Monday, I learned that one of my best friends from college would probably be indicted for murder and spend the rest of her life in prison. She wasn't a thug or gangbanger, and she played in the marching band at our university. Although she and I fell out a couple of years ago, I looked at her as someone I would always be there for. She picked me up from my chaotic household when I was in an abusive relationship. She gave me money for studio time when she knew I was hard up. And she was an excellent mother to a four-year-old son. Now, after discharging a gun into a crowd of people at a party after an altercation and starting a gunfight resulting in the death of a young man, she will likely face life in prison.

The rule in my home (and I'm sure many other black households) was always, "if someone hits you, hit them back". But what happens when the reciprocal blows turn into gunshots, or in the case of two young girls who were recently pronounced dead following fatal altercations with their classmates? Kashala Francis who was 13, and Raniya Wright, who was 10, were said to have both died of natural causes, but there's a bigger story to be told within the untimely deaths of these two young girls.

There's a false narrative that has become widely accepted that says Black women are innately angry and aggressive. This rhetoric is not only inaccurate and unproven, but it's actually pretty dangerous to believe that anger is somehow embedded in our DNA; but the archetype of the mad Black woman cannot be completely debunked without first understanding the psychology of angry Black girls.

Kashala Francis (L), Raniya Wright (R)

Raniya Wright's story made headlines last month following a fight with another student at her elementary school that ended in death. Although police determined that Raniya's death was caused my a pre-existing condition, her mother is still desperate for answers as to what happened in that classroom on the day her daughter died. While some students say they saw the student bang Raniya's head on a bookshelf and beat her in the head with her fist, the teacher in charge told police that the fight only lasted about 10 seconds.

Kashala Francis who attended Attucks Middle School in Houston, Texas, was brutally kicked, stomped and beaten on her walk home from school last Thursday. The incident was recorded by one of her attackers, and featured kids laughing as Kashala took blows to the head. The 13-year-old went home after the fight, but by Sunday, her mother says that Kashala complained of a severe headache; she was then rushed to the hospital, fell into a coma and later died. Doctors shared that after her death, they discovered that Kashala had a large undiscovered tumor that led to fluid buildup in her brain, which likely contributed to her death.

Raniya Wright was laid to rest after a celebration of her life at Saints Center Ministries in Walterboro.

I'm not a doctor, investigator, or coroner, but one thing is for damn sure. If those fights hadn't occurred, Raniya and Kashala may have still had a fighting chance. I can't say that definitively, because unfortunately, we'll never know.

It truly makes me sad that the world is currently riddled with angry little girls, and it's not their fault. Bearing the weight of both strength and generational trauma handed down by our ancestors, many times, our passion is misinterpreted and it evolves into pain. It's that same pain that has us ready to beat the next person's ass who tries to punk us out of the respect we feel we deserve.

We as adults have to move forward and away from this way of thinking and cancel "Beat A B*tch Ass" culture. We are constantly fed images of Black women abusing one another, from reality TV to social media; even Nicki and Cardi almost caught a round once or twice.

We're taught by the media that the only way to earn what we deserve is to fight, both literally and figuratively and we have got to teach our daughters that is just not true.

A study done by Georgetown University in 2017 revealed that starting at age 5, adults see little Black girls as more aggressive. This fact may not be true, but it does not change perception; what we can do is acknowledge that silencing the stigma of the mad Black woman is directly rooted in understanding the childhood of an angry little girl and teaching her that hurting someone else isn't the way to heal her pain.

At first, it was really hard for me to understand how a child could have enough anger in their hearts to kick, stomp, and beat another person, but as I thought harder, I realized that it could be any of our daughters in that position. Any woman who's ever gotten into a fist fight knows that pain, and has to make an effort to combat that urge to throw hands so that we can set a more inspirational example for our daughters.

My friend, who is 24 years old and facing a life sentence, was so much more than a mad Black woman who discharged a gun; but now, she will likely spend the rest of her life away from her son, family, and friends who love her so much simply because she never learned to tame the angry little girl that lived inside of her, and that is a real shame.

Featured image courtesy of Mamie Jackson.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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