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12-year-old Tamir Rice was one of way too many young Black men who lost their lives at the hands of careless police officers last year, and now his mother Samaria Rice is yet again speaking out to share what she’s been going through since that fateful day last November.

Speaking to journalist Feminista Jones on behalf of Ebony Magazine, Ms. Rice painfully recounted the events leading up to the day that Cleveland Police claimed the life of her young son. She recalled how she’d moved to the community less than one year in hopes of raising her children in what she saw as a more diverse and safer area of the city.

[Samaria] moved her family to the community eight months before he was killed because she believed it was more diverse and safer, a better place to raise her family. Her eldest daughter, Tasheona Rice, now 19, was pregnant at that time with Talaya Rice, now 10 months. Samaria’s eldest son, Kavon Rice, now 16, and youngest daughter Tajai Rice, now 15, all shared a home with Tamir. They are a close-knit family and Samaria remarks that she has been raising her children alone as a single mother; none of their fathers have contributed much to their upbringing. This has not deterred her, however, and she has made the most of her family’s situation like so many mothers in her predicament do.

Samaria went on to speak about how Tamir was not a “street kid,” but described him instead as a mama’s boy who she ensured didn’t grow up too fast and had regular responsibilities like chores to do in their home. She recalled teaching him about using “coping mechanisms” rather than resorting to violence or fighting when facing confrontation.

She says on the day he died, he and his older sister left to go to the community center near their home. According to police reports, someone made a phone call alerting the local police department that there was a kid in the park waving a gun around. Despite the caller also mentioning that the person in question was “probably a juvenile” and that the gun was “probably fake,” police approached the scene abruptly fired a fatal shot 12-year-old Tamir before he even had time to explain or put his hands up to surrender.

Since his death, Samaria says counseling and people offering support have helped her get through losing her son.

“People give me hugs. They tell me they are praying for me. A couple of the churches have blessed me. I’m very grateful. I didn’t ask for this, but I’m grateful. It can be very overwhelming sometimes, but I’m here. I’m in the fight,” she expressed. There have been online fundraisers and drives to help the Rice family try to transition into the next phase of their life after it was reported that they became homeless earlier this year. Samaria opted to move out of the home that was painfully close to where her youngest child’s life was taken. She and her children were living in a homeless shelter for a few months, something that she didn’t exactly want the public knowing at the time. Now, she and her family live in a smaller, newly furnished home, and have received and outpouring of support from all over the country and world.

You can read the full interview with Samaria here.

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  • It’s a great blessing to see such an outpouring of compassion sent to Samaria Rice and to her family. It’s a shame that a young child can’t have a prom, can’t go into college, and can’t live his life beyond 20 years old as a product of a murdering cop. Samaria Rice’s story outlines to us that we are in this fight. This fight is not about hating people in a reckless way. It’s not about promoting nihilism. It’s about ending police brutality. It’s about the establishment of economic and social justice. These things are the things that we hold dear. Samaria Rice is a strong woman.

    • I to feel compassion for Samaria Rice and I hope the murdering cops pay a heavy price for murdering her son but I also question the mentality of a parent who buys her son a fake gun considering the problems we have in our community with gun violence, a good parent should know better had not someone bought that fake gun her son might be living today.

    • The police murderer is solely responsible for the death of the child. A person can be extremely moral and still be murdered. Therefore, structural changes in society is a necessity. A child played with a toy gun. If the cop made a wiser decision, then Tamir would be alive today. The mother is not perfect, but I’m not to going to besmirck the character of a greiving mother. The problem of terrorist, fascist police officers must be addressed. I understand your point of view. Some have a preoccupation with blaming our people collectively instead of standing up against brutality no matter who does it.

      We have to improve our families and change society. It is fine to have morality, but people need living wages, a cleaner environment, better health care, and justice. I respect your point of view. We all want black people to have stronger communities and stronger families worldwide.

    • Jaya

      We really need to stop giving some of these parents a pass. Not holding parents accountable is a big part of the problem. I know your intentions are good, but we have to look at how we can increase the chances of us and our children not being murdered by police or by anyone. People have always killed people, so this isn’t going to stop. So we need to look at “how to decrease the likelihood” of being murdered.

      I know I could be murdered anywhere, but if I go into a drug infested zone where known drug dealers hang out or are known to shoot it out, I have increased my chances of being murdered. If I walk around carrying a gun or something that looks like a gun, whether it’s a toy or not, I have increased my chances of being murdered by the police or another regular citizen. If I live in a low income area anywhere, I have increased my chances of being murdered.

      I hope this policeman gets the maximum sentence, but even a child can innocently pull a trigger on a gun and kill people, so whoever gave this toy gun to this child is partially at fault for his death.

      This is why certain cities are trying to pass a law against ignorant adults buying toy guns for children.

    • If a parent does something wrong, then that parent should not be given a pass. On that point, I have no disagreement from you. Parents should experience accountability on many things, but this parent should receive no blame for the death of Tamir Rice at all. Police terrorism has nothing to do with parenting. It has to do with corrupt cops alone. Parenting is a separate issue from police terrorism since good parenting must be advanced in any society.

      The way to decrease the chances of cops killing people is for more community control of the police and for the continued accountability sent to officers who break the law. The police should serve us not vice versa. They are bounded by law just like everyone else. Decreasing the likelihood of murder deals with many things beyond moral improvement. It also deals with a fundamental structural change in how society is operated. More job opportunities must develop, more infrastructure must grow, and there has to be an accounting of officers too. There are many instances where someone is unarmed, moral, and upright, and that person is still murdered by the police in an unjust fashion. We need good parenting and the exclusion of the deification of the police at the same time.

      The ghetto was not created by the masses of black people collectively. The ghetto was originally created by the oligarchy. There are countless studies that expose anti-black biases among whites (and some blacks), which contributes to the stereotyping and mistreatment of innocent black people in general. If I go and volunteer, that will increase the chances of lowering violent crime in my community. If I do and work in community development organizations, then that will increase the chances of my community being better. If I reject scapegoating people, because of their neighborhood and use progressive actions, then more solutions can come about.

      The way to stop the infestation of dangerous drugs (since not all drugs are the same) is to end the War on Drugs and to enact drug treatment programs. It is to develop more mentorships and independent programs that can resolve conflicts in communities. It is easy to condemn poorer communities, but we have to be part of the solution as well. There is nothing immoral about carrying a toy gun in an non-threatening manner. There has to be more than moral improvement in our community. There must be economic and political solutions that some ignore. Theocracies never work as history has proven. The child has no responsibility for his own death neither anyone else, but the police officer. Hypotheticals can’t replace facts. Drug infested neighborhoods has nothing directly to do with this situation.

      This situation deals with the unjust murder of a child by a brutal cop. Police terrorism is the primary issue not the mother or her son. I’m won’t minimize the epidemic of police brutality and the problem of racism in this country. You have the right to your views. I have the right to mine. Centuries ago, the Maafa existed. With activism, it stopped. Decades ago, the Shoah and Jim Crow apartheid existed. With activism, these evils stopped. Some people have no choice, but to live in low income areas because of poverty, job layoffs, and other economic struggles. That is why we have to be involved in helping the masses of black people so the increased risks of various harm done to them (as you wrote about) can be dramatically lowered.

      I don’t believe that the mother is perfect (the person who sold the gun to this child will probably experience guilt), but I will never besmirch her character in private or in public. I understand your views about risks, etc. This mother is grieving.

    • Jaya

      I grieve with this mother. This child’s blood is on all of our hands when we sit silently by and allow people to continue to spit out babies when we know some parents of all groups are not able to guide, provide for, and protect these innocent ones adequately. That’s even when the parents are not low income.

      Your views on low income people are often expressed but keep in mind that all low income people or inadequate parents are not black and some don’t live in the ghetto. My focus is on the near criminal act of giving children toy guns in a society that was built on violence.

      I assume these articles are put here for discussion, so I’m merely adding my points to the discussion.

      Yes, there should be general improvement in society, poverty should not exist, and no segment of people should be deified. But until all of that is corrected, we need to put the focus on trying to keep as many of us alive as possible.

      Blaming the oligarchy is not going to bring about lasting, significant change unless you’re talking about hundreds or thousands of years. Blacks have been loudly blaming for the past 75 years or more. How much has “really” changed? Not talking about cosmetic changes. There are lots more things that blacks can do or do a lot better to improve life for black people in this country. But as soon as that’s pointed out, the usual response from other blacks is saying you’re “blaming the victim.” This is why so many blacks are complacent. They really don’t feel they need to change anything about what they’re doing.

      I don’t know who gave this toy gun to the child, but even if a well-meaning person gave a child of mine a very expensive toy gun as a gift, I would never let him handle it. I would throw it away instantly. That’s my responsibility, as a parent.

    • We agree that the mother is grieving and her grief should be respected. She is a human being. We all express empathy towards her. The child’s blood is in the police officer’s hands alone not on us. We must condemn police terrorism. Many of our people are not silent. Many of our people have condemned evils in our communities for decades. There have been countless vigils, protests, and programs led by black people to address black on black crime despite what racists like O’Reilly, Limbaugh, etc. have said. The teen pregnancy rates have declined since 1992. It is important to improve our families. We have the responsibility to make the right choices morally, socially, or otherwise. These problems exist in numerous communities. I do believe that investments in family development programs, in religious groups who want to improve our families, etc. are imperatives.

      We have to invest in our education, so that can cause more people to voluntarily have children and take care of them adequately. There must be living wages, child care services, pre-K investments, etc. to cause poor families to escape poverty. There must be multiple solutions beyond an unitary approach.

      My views on low income people are accurate. The vast majority of low income people aren’t murderers, rapists, and other extreme criminals. Many of them are college graduates, many of them are strong mothers plus strong fathers, and some of them are people with great character. Now, this story is mostly about the actions of a terrorist cop. Adding to the discussion (which you have done) is fine with me. Violence existed in this nation long before toy guns have been sold to children. Yet, you are right that it is not the best decision to sell such items to children. That’s true.

      Me personally, we must simultaneously try to keep people alive and confront injustice. Injustice is only solved by comprehensive actions done as soon as possible. The focus should be on all of the above. We need to improve our communities, save lives, work in our communities, etc. Yes, I blame the oligarchy for originating our problems in the first place and that’s important. The reason is that nothing is solved unless the origin of it is discovered. Now, I never said that we have no responsibility to do what is right. I never said that we should only blame the oligarchy (who follows the agenda of white supremacy) for the origins of our situation. We have to do more than that. We have to do what is right. We must live by a code of conduct which advances integrity, wise decisions, and altruism. It is obvious that black people have to change for the better. We all have to change and be more compassionate and improve ourselves. That’s true. Blaming the poor will not bring lasting solutions either.

      For almost 50 years, austerity, deindustrialization, the War on Drugs, bad trade deals, etc. has harmed our communities. These right wing policies have not worked in our communities. For centuries, white racists have blamed all black people for our plight and today (which is truly blaming the victim), they still do it. I never believe in collectively blaming all black people for every evil in our communities at all. Nothing massively has changed in the mentalities of racists and extremists. Also, I do believe in not only exposing the oligarchy. I believe that we can enact solutions ourselves too. I don’t believe that some calling for a change in society in our communities (or causing black people to do better) is equivalent to blaming the victim. Yet, it is true that racists have blamed the victim by condemning everybody in the black community for police brutality, poverty, and other evils. We certainly need self-reflection and self-accountability, which seems to be one of your arguments. No one here disagrees with you on that issue. There must be an economic and political revolution in our nation also. That is my clear point.

      Parents do have a great responsibility in caring for their children.

    • Jaya

      My last point on this is that I don’t believe that jobs, higher wages, or any amount of money would alone change much for blacks. If we’re going to be honest, IMO, it’s the “values and priorities” and the indiscipline among blacks that mostly cause so many of our folks to fail or stay mired in problems.

      Remember that during the “war on poverty,” back in the 1960s-70s, billions of dollars were supposedly pumped into low-income black communities. Even if only a fraction of that money landed in the hands of blacks, what did we do with the money? How many of us started businesses that hired others of us? How many of those dollars went toward establishing private schools where we could educate our children the way we want them educated and mold blacks to be the way that’s best for us? As much as blacks complain about how the school system fails our children, there was/is nothing stopping us from setting up all sizes of private black-run schools all over the country–small and large–if we were serious about educating our children. A school can even be set up in a spare room in your house.

      Lack of proper vision, wrong values, and misplaced priorities are the main reasons why we don’t do these things. More money is not going to change that.

      How much of the money that came in did we spend promoting and developing black families of the type we want? How much of it did we spend to build quality communities where we would prefer to remain instead of fleeing to white communities? Or was that money disproportionally spent on big homes, big cars, lavish lifestyles, and other material things.

      I’m just saying that if I were a black leader in 2015, I would put “most” of the focus on the internal and the present. We learn from the past, but we can’t change it.

      Good exchange of views!

  • Mary Burrell

    He looked like such a precious little boy so tragic this baby had to die a senseless death at the hands of these racist beast.

    • Vintage

      He does look like a sweet faced kid who couldn’t hurt a fly.

    • lareyna

      A life taken too soon by evil and brutality. I hope the murderers get their comuppance.

  • Jaya

    This child’s death is very, very disturbing. There are no words! No single black mother at her income level can provide and protect 4 children. I’m a good distance away from her situation but I’d be scared to even have 2 children.

    Like none of the other cases, this one really shows the life and death seriousness of the need for black women to protect their wombs from semen donors.The children pay the price. I know this mom didn’t know any better but too many black women apparently don’t know they must protect their wombs at all costs. Why don’t black women know this by now? I would rip my womb out before I allowed anybody to keep filling me up with babies who will have to fend for themselves in this system all alone. At the end of his life, this child was all alone.