I want to express that all of this is written in grief and bereavement. It is written with hands dampened with tears, sliding across a wet keyboard in between pauses of weeping after hearing the prosecutor explain the Tamir Rice decision to not indict the officer involved. So my speech may be perhaps, overdramatic, but still accurate, and without apology.
I get a notification from my phone when major news breaks across the globe. When the attacks on Paris happened, my phone chimed, as if it were a text from a friend who is always informed: “Hey man, did ya get the news?” When the attacks in San Bernadino happened, the same occurred. When the Texas grand jury decided not to indict anyone on the Sandra Bland case, my phone told me. All were moments of sadness that moved me and caused me to tighten the grip of said phone to keep from dropping it (or throwing it).
But none like the most recent one.
On Monday December 28th I was told there would be no indictment against the officer who shot 12 year old Tamir Rice.
Now I won’t go into the logistics of the report. Quite honestly, I don’t CARE about the logistics of the report. I do not see, nor do I understand how a trained official can be so fearful of a person half his size while in a 2-ton police cruiser. So fearful that he uses deadly force. Nor do I understand how he can face no accountability for those actions. That is the tip of the iceberg of my issues. To be incredibly blunt, I am fucking exhausted by putting these thoughts into reason. At this moment, all I can do is blanket all of this in a simple statement:
Tamir Rice looks just like my nephew.
He looks almost identical to him in the last year of Tamir’s life. Up and down; same smile, same haircut, same style of clothing, same poses… even the EYEBROWS are the same. He looks just like my sister’s son; her beautiful Nathan, who she puts before everyone and everything, and rightfully so. I texted her this; at least a paraphrased, condensed version, to which she replied:
“Everytime I see these young men on the news, I see my son.”
This is when I start to lose it.
Young MEN. Plural. Frequent in its occurence. All too familiar faces on the news, followed by the very same story: a story of no justice and no assistance for pursuit.
These people are too familiar to our loved ones. Our features are too close to not be touched by their humanity, as they mirror our own. Eric Garner looks like this heavy-kid guy I met at college named Malik that was a wizard who would have PC’s lined up in his room from all the favors for computer engineers on that same floor of the dorm. Michael Brown looks like this kid who I got in a fight with on the bus in 5th grade, but then we became friends after that year. Sandra Bland looks like my mother’s friend who would come over and play cards while I was in high school and would be up in my personal business whenever she could be.
Men like Patrick Dorismond, Alonzo Ashley, Timothy Stansbury and Ronald Madison all have various features like my uncles, haircuts like my father’s friends from high school that he would see in town, and mustaches like my father himself. Kids like Trayvon Martin and Kimani Grey remind me of my cousins who I would see during family reunions and barely even recognize because of the speed of their growth.
Some people think Black people say ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ to each other because it’s slang or ‘it sounds cool’. We say it because it’s TRUE.
Now every time I hear from my “informed friend,“ I see a relative, and I hear about what happened, and I hear about how tragic it is, and that’s it. My friend never says anything after that. No more notifications. Just that same story over and over again, but only with different names, and one of these days, I would like the ending of the story to be different. And perhaps the silver lining IS the sadness and all of the tears, and the fact that despite its sickening frequency, I am not numb to the news. The feeling of helplessness and the ability to change it, however, is up for debate and discussion, to which I am completely open.
I don’t think these police officers see who I see when they shoot these people.
I would REALLY like to know WHAT they see?
Image Source: A Family Photo of Tamir Rice found here.