I cannot write about Tamir Rice today. I can’t post pictures of him on my Facebook page or write words about how sorry I am he’s gone, how I hate the lawlessness of law enforcement and the bigotry behind the preconceived notions that led to his death, or how folks wrote, screamed, protested, prayed, petitioned, wept, and donated all in the interest of seeing his murderers on trial – to no avail. I cannot write or post about those things because all that talking simply makes me feel inadequate and I think I – all of us really – owe him so much more than that.
Black folks have mostly been protesting on the peaceful end of the spectrum. We make signs, march, write poems, create memes, call congress people, light candles, fuss on news shows, and talk about our right to equal treatment under the law, but in the end, we are repeatedly reminded who we are in this society and how little, if anything, our lives are worth to those who’ve spent hundreds of years employing various tactics to oppress us. In all this, I keep wondering when we will turn the tables such that when I speak of Tamir, I am speaking of a rarity instead of regularity. I wonder when we will stop asking nicely for what is owed us as human beings and start acting on the very entitlement we frequently have to rally against when it’s being used to deter us from receiving what we’re owed. I wonder when we will start to manipulate circumstances to work in our favor the way those circumstances have been manipulated and used against us to keep us incarcerated, impoverished, and impotent.
I cannot talk about Tamir right now because I feel like a debtor avoiding a bill collector’s calls. I can’t bring myself to speak on him until I have something to say TO him. Right now, I don’t even have a small payment on the bill. I need to be able to tell him we fought for the trial and incarceration of his killers and won. I need to tell him those men will never work in law enforcement again, never kill another child, never make another dime, and never again feel comfortable in their bigoted thinking because the guilt of murdering a child keeps them from sleeping, eating, working, or earning an income. I want to be able to tell him we fixed it and because we haven’t, I cannot write about him.
I cannot cry for Tamir right now because I’m too angry, too hurt, and too disappointed in the way we tried to do everything the “right way” according to the laws of his murderers, yet still were unable to get so much as a glimpse of the justice his loved ones deserve. I do not want to speak on Tamir until Black folks with active social consciousness realize sometimes, we have to put down the boycott signs and pick up a pitchfork instead.
I really want to talk, write, and cry about Tamir in the worst way, but I don’t think I can until we fully understand we can’t always politely ask for what is innately ours as citizens of this place. We have to know the “justice” system will fail us the majority of the time because it wasn’t created with us in mind. There will be times we have to take what belongs to us because pleasantly requesting it isn’t always the most effective course of action. We have to be prepared to change our course – something which admittedly, is much easier said than done. But until this starts to happen, I won’t be able to talk, write, or cry about him without feeling like I failed him. He deserves better than that. ©