They say George Stinney, at 14, was the youngest person ever executed by the state. Tamir Rice now holds that distinction. He was 12. Above all else, that fact matters. He had just 12 birthdays before his life ended. If it had been cancer or some other chronic ailment, we’d all mourn the tragedy. Since he was murdered by the epidemic diseases of white apathy and police brutality, though, the mourning for this baby is up for debate.
Black people, we failed to stop this too many times before. I don’t mean marching and begging like we do every time one of ours is murdered by cops. We’ve done that for decades. We’ve tried to appeal to an invisible conscious. We’ve demanded the snuff videos be released to the public again and again. And we’ve literally watched our own die, only to have what we thought was an indisputable account of murder paused, replayed and justified. We’ve continued to sacrifice our psyche hoping the white masses would finally see the humanity in us. We’ve been unaffordably hopeful and willfully ignorant of centuries of history.
We did this. We failed to fight. We sacrifice our babies when we refuse to fight for them. And I mean FIGHT! We cannot keep exchanging pleasantries in offices with people who won’t acknowledge a pre-teen black boy was shot. We cannot make small talk in grocery store lines about the weather and sale prices with people who watched Tamir’s life instantly abbreviated. We cannot exchange homework tips at the PTA meetings with people who make no mention of the fact that your baby could have been Tamir.
NO MORE! Any and every non-business conversation you have with a white person needs to be only about what they plan to do about the climate they inherited and fostered which not only declines to punish, but rewards the murder of unarmed black people. No relationship, friendly or familial, should be more important than our lives and the lives of these babies we are charged to protect. At Christmas dinner, you need to be calling your white parents, aunties, cousins or whomever you call loved ones out. If they’re more uncomfortable with you bringing up their inaction with regard to our lives than they are with the possibility of attending your or your baby’s premature funeral, they ain’t loved ones. If a white person is not down to strategize and brainstorm what they can do, believe me they don’t give a fuck about you.
White people, you did this. I don’t care if you’ve never set foot in the state of Ohio. I don’t care if you were mortified by the video of Tamir’s murder. I don’t care if you cried and reached out to your black friends. I don’t care if your children are black. You are responsible for this.
Each and every one of you did this. Save your tears. Rally your fucking people! Demand the change. Prove all that shit y’all are in our inboxes and texts saying. Stop talking about and be about it. Stop asking us what you can do to fix this problem and fix it.
Don’t tell me how your heart is broken because I promise you, any discussions of your child being murdered by police on camera before he starts 7th grade are hypothetical. You know that will never happen. I’m raising a big, strong black boy. Tamir is my reality. I don’t give a fuck how you would feel. The threat to my baby is imminent. If you don’t want to discuss what ACTION you’re ready to take to shift this climate, I don’t want to talk.
I keep looking at images of that caramel colored boy with the same innocent smile and beautiful eyes as my son. I keep staring at that little boy who was probably excited for Christmas or about his latest crush. That baby face wakes me from my sleep. I owe him. We owe him.
A 12-year-old is dead and no one is being held accountable. That’s the only conversation I’m willing to have. It’s the only conversation I can afford to have right now because I definitely can’t afford a black dress. I can’t afford the undying rage burning inside me. I can’t afford white apathy, white savagery, white supremacy and black docility. I can’t afford one more hashtag. I can’t afford the indignity.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
— Nelson Mandela