Until White America looks at Tamir Rice and sees their own children, there will be no racial justice in the U.S.
He was 12, playing with a toy gun, in a locale with open-carry laws. Tamir Rice was executed for being a black boy
By Chauncy DeVega
In reflecting on the myriad of circumstances where the lives of unarmed and innocent black people have been stolen by America’s police—while surrendering; following police orders; sleeping in cars; sleeping at home; seeking help after car accidents; opening up wallets; walking down the street; shopping; playing in a park; standing outside; riding bicycles; asking for help with a mentally ill relative or neighbor; breathing air and just being nearby—it is abundantly clear that there is one unifying factor common to all of those examples.
To be black is to be under assault by American society and its legal system.
It is the stigma placed on those who because of an arbitrary melanin count and America’s ‘one drop rule’ are placed on the bottom of the country’s racial hierarchy.
To be black in America is also to occupy a place of fear and threat in the white popular imagination and collective subconscious: “black people” are “scary”; “black crime” is an “epidemic”; the “black family” is “broken”; “black men” are dangerous, violent, hyper-libidinal “thugs”; and “black women” are promiscuous “welfare queens.”
If you are black in America then preemptive violence by the state, its police, their allies, and white folks en masse under “stand your ground laws,” is presumed to almost always be legitimate and justified. To be black is to be guilty until proven innocent. America’s system of jurisprudence is inverted along the color line.
To be black in America is ultimately a state of existential terror, threat and violence.
If, as the prosecutor said, officers followed policy in the killing of Tamir Rice something is horribly wrong
By Daniel Denvir
But the most brutal features of the criminal justice system aren’t a result of the system malfunctioning; the biggest problem is that the criminal justice system often functions explicitly as it has been designed to work by politicians, prosecutors and police chiefs. That’s why 2.2-odd million people were behind bars in this country at the end of last year.
The challenge is not correcting dysfunction in the criminal justice system. In reality, the allegedly textbook shooting Tamir Rice is a chilling reminder that the fundamental problem is the criminal justice system’s very function.