Last week, the news broke that the police officers involved in shooting an
unarmed black child for holding a toy gun would not be indicted for any measure
of crime.

I missed this news breaking. I was busy celebrating my own son’s 11th
birthday party. His party of choice was not entirely unrelated to Tamir Rice’s
death over a year ago. Since then, I’ve not allowed him to play with pretend guns. So
for his birthday, he wanted to go to a laser tag facility and play in an
environment that was safe for him. Raising boys . . . you can think how you want
about guns, but the desire to chase and pretend-shoot seems almost innate. And
because I understand that, I allowed this seemingly harmless concession for his

The following night, the kids and I attended a Kwanza party at the home of a
friend. There is a tradition, during a Kwanza celebration, to talk a moment to
pay homage to those who have “gone before” . . . it’s a moment to recognize
loved ones who have passed, or those from the African American community who
have paved the way for others. The community takes a quiet moment to speak
names, with each named followed by ashe, which means “let is be so.”. As we sat,
the room began to buzz with names. First, names I didn’t recognize. Relatives
and loved ones.

Then, names I knew.

Dr. King


Maya Angelou


James Baldwin


Then there was a pause. And a woman spoke another name I knew.

Sandra Bland


Tamir Rice


Trayvon Martin


Their names felt heavy in the room.

There was a collective sense of importance in speaking their names . . . and in remembering the loss of lives and honoring those whose lives have provoked a renewed fight for justice and for black lives.

And yet still . . . I couldn’t bring myself to write about Tamir.

I usually have plenty of words to say about racial justice, but in the case of Tamir, I could not bear to have to sit down and try to convince an audience of readers why they should care that no one was charged with shooting a child for playing with a toy gun. What is there to say, really? Do these facts actually need editorializing?

Do I need to write a response? To weigh in? Does this story warrant an opinion that isn’t completely evident in the facts of the case?

A boy was playing with a pretend gun. He was 12 years old. He was shot before the police car stopped moving. He was left to die like a wounded animal. He was not given aid. His sister was tackled and cuffed when she arrived on the scene and expressed grief. He laid on the ground with no one attending to him. A child.

And a grand jury decided this was legal.

I could go on about his age, and his height, and the similarity to my own son. I could try to personalize this for you . . . I could give you the “nice white lady perspective” of having a black son and the fear that is inherent in that so that I could try to provoke more empathy from those who don’t get the outrage.

But I shouldn’t have to do that.

What is there to say about Tamir Rice that isn’t already self-evident?

I’m left with very little to say, except that I’m terrified.