One morning earlier this week, my friend Kate and I were walking through our Cleveland neighborhood when our conversation, conducted at a safe distance from each other, turned to the funeral of Tamir Rice.

Only Pastor Kate would think to remember my story from that day.

She and I were discussing ways that white people could show support for black Americans as our streets filled with protesters and our country roiled with grief and rage. I have written many times about my objection to this notion of "the black community" and how it allows white people to keep our distance by casting racism as only their problem instead of ours. We have yet to make the mindful, collective shift required to think and talk in terms of our community and the violent deaths of our citizens.

"I remember Tamir Rice's funeral," Kate said softly. "I remember how you felt about that."

She was referring to my outrage -- my heartbreak, really -- over how few white people had shown up for his packed, public funeral. I could count the number of white mourners on two hands.

You likely know about Tamir Rice, even if you don't remember his name. On Nov. 22, 2014, Tamir was playing alone in a Cleveland city park with an air pellet gun. A 911 caller told the dispatcher that Tamir was waving a gun but stressed that it was probably a toy. This detail was not conveyed to the two policemen, both of them white, who answered the call.

The police car zoomed up just feet away from Tamir. Within two seconds, maybe three seconds at most, Tamir fell to the ground. A rookie cop had leapt out and shot him twice.

As I noted in a column from that time, we knew these details not because of the original police account, which cast Tamir as a young man waving a gun into a frightened crowd and ignoring three warnings from police to drop his weapon. We learned what happened only after police later released a grainy video capturing the last few viable minutes of Tamir's life.

I will never forget what his mother, Samaria Rice, told me in an interview a year after her son's death.

"I watch that video over and over. I have to. It's the last video I have of my child alive. I see that police car speed up to Tamir. There's no time. There's no time for my boy to understand what is happening.

"He didn't have a lot of suspicions about people. I look at him in that video, and I'm wondering: 'What are you thinking right now? Do you know what's about to happen to you?'"

That video of Tamir's death went viral around the world. Here in Cleveland, I heard and saw plenty of outrage from white residents, and I had expected to see many of them at his funeral.

When I shared my disappointment in a column, the pushback was considerable. The most common excuses stemmed from a perceived discomfort:

"We weren't invited," even though Tamir's family had made clear it was a public service.

"I never attend a funeral for a stranger," which is not true. Plenty of us attend funerals of people we don't know because we care about the people they left behind.

The harder truth was that many white people didn't feel the loss of Tamir Rice in a personal way. They were sad that an innocent child had died, but from a distance. Tamir was somebody else's boy, some other community's tragedy.

Six years later, here we are, still witnessing with alarming regularity the deaths of unarmed black Americans. Six years later, here we are, as white people, still struggling with how to grieve. But if we see these as our losses, the grief is as natural as it is uninvited. We don't have to think about how to care, but rather how to survive the unthinkable and how to stop it from happening again.

My friend, journalist Joan Walsh, who is white, has been writing about racism for many years. From her recent essay for The Nation:

"My single most important insight into how white people should work on issues of racial justice ... Listen more than you talk. And then: Go into majority-black spaces, and again, listen. Take your cues from black leadership."

This remains a radical notion for many white people, which illustrates its necessity. Let's talk less and listen more. Let's open our hearts to the grief that's been trying to find us for so many years.

Creators.com, 2020/

(36) comments

Donald

I am impressed with how Ms. Schultz manages to display her own sense of perceived virtue while doing a shallow, surface skimming dance of piety over the bodies of those she professes to mourn. Her column generates a few observations/questions on my part.

First – Why does Ms. Schultz think that black Americans at a funeral for a black kid would want hoards of whites taking up the pews in the church? Did Ms. Schultz count how many Asians were present? Or how many Hispanics were there? If they were there in small numbers, should she not also lament their failure to attend?

Second – If, as Ms. Schultz writes, “many white people didn't feel the loss of Tamir Rice in a personal way”, does she also somehow know if the same holds true for many Asian people not feeling the loss in a personal way?; or Hispanic people not feeling the loss in a personal way? Or indeed, non-whites not feeling the loss of a white kid in a “personal way”?

Third -- By, “a personal way”, in reference to the Black community, does Ms. Schultz mean in a sense of racial solidarity? If so, does this not contradict her call for a “our community” paradigm?

Fourth – How does Ms. Schultz expect to achieve an “our community” versus multiple communities paradigm when those of her socio-political persuasion are chin-deep into the multicultural paradigm in which assimilation is viewed as racial/ethnic conquest and all emphasis is currently on maintaining distinct communities based on race -- which we are told does not exist -- and culture?

prodigalson

Excellent Donald.

R B Tate

Donald, I believe this hag is married to Sharrod Brown, a congressman from the Cleveland area. He owes his career to showing his pale face at inner city "celebrity" funerals, and pandering to radical urban hate groups like BLM and Antifa.

LVW

I am not in the habit of going to funerals of people I don't know (or whose families I don't know), no matter what their skin color is, and so the basic premise of this piece seems wacky. But (Dant) systemic racism is certainly not a myth! And, regarding all these high-profile killings, I have a higher standard for police than those for a random clown on the street, so when someone ends up dead because of too-aggressive police action, no matter who they are, then I think some outrage is justified.

Sane Man

"When someone ends up dead because of too-aggressive police action, no matter who they are, then I think some outrage is justified." I totally agree. The problem is that race has been injected into this scenario. There is not a shred of evidence that race played a role in the death of Mr. Floyd. Had Mr. Floyd been white the story would not have made news. I reach out to anyone to provide some evidence that Mr. Floyd's death had anything to do with race. The BLM movement is a farce. If they cared about the people they claim to represent, then where is the outrage when black people have their communities and businesses destroyed by looters and arsonists? Why is there no outrage when someone kills a black police officer? Where is the outrage when scores of black people get killed every week in our major cities? Many of the buffoons protesting wish to create an anarchy in our nation. Some are simply seeking an opportunity to steal and loot while the police are busy and overwhelmed with other matters. Others are seeking some form of self worth due to their lack of accomplishment in life. Others wish to find meaning in their life and a part of some sort of group that gives them emotional support. They could care less about Mr. Floyd. They all have their own personal agendas. The Democrats welcome and perpetuate this type activity because it keeps their constituents, especially black people, enslaved in poverty. I denounce any form of racism. The death of Mr. Floyd was due to the actions of overzealous police officers. They committed criminal acts for which they should be punished. However, to imply that the criminal acts carried out by the police officers had racial overtones is baseless and without merit due to the lack of any evidence to support such a claim.

bknjholl

interesting point - "Had Mr. Floyd been white the story would not have made news."

No, they would have taken him to Burger King.

newshound

A fool like you would do that.

bknjholl

"Sir, I admit your general rule, that every poet is a fool. But you yourself may serve to show it, that every fool is not a poet." - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

prodigalson

Sane Man, Amen, Amen, and Amen. Brilliant synopsis.

LVW

Sane man: I agree with some, but not all, of what you said. I think (but don't know) to understand the outrage of the Floyd incident, you'd have to consider the perspective of blacks, who have seen a number of instances where police have acted outrageously, and only been "caught" because of third-party information, usually in the form of some cell phone video. Like I said, there is (and should be) a higher standard for police than for others, so comparing "black-on-black violence" to police actions is an apples-to-oranges comparison. And of course I disagree with the usual right-wing narrative that Dems just want to keep blacks "enslaved in poverty."

Sane Man

I did not compare "black-on-black violence to police actions." I asked where the outrage is from BLM if they are really concerned about all black lives as they would have you believe. BLM is a racist organization in and of itself.

They imply that only black lives matter and their ideology is indifferent to other races. They are hypocrites that create false narratives of racism, like the Floyd case, etal, to create a hatred of white people by their followers, white apologists, anarchists and criminal opportunists. The Floyd case, a so-called racist killing of a black man has nothing to do with race. Police brutality is the issue at hand here, not racism. But that fact does not fit the BLM narrative because all races suffer from it. It minimizes their plight to think that not only black people experience such inequalities. Police brutality is a legitimate topic. Systemic racism, directed only at black people, or any specific racial group, from law enforcement agencies across our nation is a baseless myth. BLM and other racist, hate-filled organizations create the myth. The press carries out the narrative of oppression directed only at black people. Politicians, white apologists, anarchists, criminals and some other blacks sieze the moment and carry out their agendas. They justify any and all of their actions, criminal and otherwise, in the name of justice for those who have suffered from the belief of systemic racism from all law enforcement agencies. The real truth is that many of the white people that are protesting, simply because of the color of their skin, are actually hated by many of the blacks that they are supporting.

LVW

Sane man: "Systemic racism, directed only at black people, or any specific racial group, from law enforcement agencies across our nation is a baseless myth." See, I don't think that is true. And I am sure that there is a perception of systemic racism from law enforcement, even if what you say is true. But, being white, I have no personal experience with it.

newshound

Champion race hustler Al Sharpton eulogizing Floyd for 3 hours is insane. Yes, Floyd was inhumanely treated and suffered a horrible death at the “knee” of one (or maybe a few more) out-of-control cop. And it was criminal and despicable to anyone with a heart and feelings.

But Floyd was in no way living an exemplary life with his criminal record, falsely claiming he moved to Minnesota to “reform his life and start anew.”

So all those kindly Black celebs paying for everything including a “gold-plated” casket, must either hold George in high esteem or using his death to promote a wicked, selfish agenda.

newshound

Of course there is concern and questions why it happened for gosh sakes. Becoming “outraged” leads to trouble by those not capable of thinking and keeping emotions in check.

prodigalson

Excellent post Newshound. The biggest difference between Conservatives and liberals is that Conservatives make decisions based upon reason, and liberals make decisions based upon their emotions, which of course, is why liberals always make poor decisions.

LVW

prod: I most definitely do not make decisions "based on my emotions." Your us-vs-them thinking is inaccurate and simplistic ... or dare I say, emotional.

freeride

I think what bothers me most with these race baiting liberals is how they conveniently leave out facts and try very hard to pull on peoples heart strings using emotion to gain support for their crooked agenda. Tamir Rice weighed over 180lbs and looked more like an adult than a child and was threatening people with the pellet pistol, so he wasn't just a little boy playing games....at 12 years old you should know better than to point even a toy gun at someone, especially a stranger! The person who called police, though he wasn't sure, thought the kid might actually have a real weapon. Where did Tamir get the pellet gun and why was he carrying it around in a park pointing it at people? It was an unfortunate accident but very hard to blame law enforcement IMO. Again the liberals on purpose leave out the fact that white unarmed men are also killed by police but somehow the news never covers those stories...why? Systemic racism and police brutality is an unproven myth and is pushed by the left to continue to control minorities!

newshound

He was in the park unsupervised playing with a lookalike weapon. A recipe for disaster in a large metro area numb to violence.

Of course, the results were tragic.

To worry about the racial makeup of attendees at the funeral service is yet another example of a sick twisted liberal mind which functions on emotional agendas.

bknjholl

DANT, you aren't listening.

prodigalson

A couple of points: First of all, an air rifle is not a toy, and can maim, and depending on the rifle and the circumstances, they can kill. While I certainly feel for the family of this child, and mourn his death, I do not go along with the notion that the police should shoulder all of the blame for that death. When police officers go out on a call, they don't have the advantage of knowing all of the details involved, or exactly what they are going to be dealing with once they arrive. They have to make split-second decisions based upon the information that they do have, and when one is faced with a suspect brandishing a weapon (again, an air rifle is a real weapon, not a toy), one must react accordingly. Furthermore, where was this child's parents? Did they know that he was in the park, brandishing a loaded weapon? When I was a young boy, I spent countless hours shooting my air rifle, but was taught by my parents the importance of gun safety, and the importance of never, ever pointing a gun at anything that I did not intend to shoot.

My other point would be this: the author of this piece seems to suggest that society has been segregated into "black communities" and "white communities" rather than "American communities". My question is "Who is responsible for this supposed segregation?" To me, the answer is clear: The Demokkkrat party is responsible, and the reason is very obvious: It keeps Demokkkrats in control of a sizable percentage of the population, as Demokkkrats have convinced these folks that they need Demokkkrats in order to survive. It is for this reason that we have many large, urban areas such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, where poverty and crime are rampant, and people live in abject hopelessness. This is the way Demokkkrats want to keep it, of course, so that they can maintain their grip on power in those areas, but it is not good for society. The Demokkkrat party is pure evil, and needs to be destroyed.

freeride

Great post prodigalson!

prodigalson

Thank you Dant.

LVW

Pure evil ... blah blah blah.

prodigalson

Great rebuttal LVW. That took a lot of thoughtful analysis.

LVW

It was more of a rebuttal than your ridiculous thesis deserves.

prodigalson

LOL. Now that was much better LVW. Witty, snarky, sarcastic, with just a touch of sour grapes. Now that't the LVW we all know and love. Carry on, my brother.

newshound

The socialist Dems have encouraged this practice through generations to replenish the mostly uninformed voting bloc that keeps the despicable Dems in power, allows communities to crumble and perpetuates despair. Whenever convenient, faux racial myths (ie white privilege) can be cited for all problems instead of failed governance and leadership.

bknjholl

The failed governance and leadership you say? Who is in charge right now? 'Nuf said.

prodigalson

In the cities where looting, riots, and crime are taking place, Demokkkrats are in charge, and have been for the past 50 years.

newshound

In the major cities... fools that think like you and usually sit on their brains. Go strum your mandolin in Brooklyn and solicit “donations.”

freeride

In the cities being looted and burned...the leadership is Democrats. In the cities with the highest gun violence...the leadership is democrats. In the cities with the most police brutality the leadership is Democrats. bknjholl are you listening?

bknjholl

There is no such party. You aren't listening.

prodigalson

No Mr. Holl, we are listening. We just arrived at a different conclusion than you did. It's called a "robust exchange of ideas".

bknjholl

in further news... Mr. Trump visited a factory in Maine on Friday and refused to wear a mask. Because they are manufacturing much needed sterile swabs for COVID testing, every swab made during his visit had to be destroyed. Everything Mr. Trump touches dies... Think on that for a minute...

freeride

Wow bknjholl, you are really digging deep in your gutter to pull a story like that out....it shows where your head is most of the time....lmao! Trump saved thousands of lives with his leadership and genius during this over rated pandemic and continues to keep people with low IQ's in a tizzy. Are you listening yet?

Driller

Prod aka Pretzelman Round up the Saudi Republicans and destroy them. They are pure evil!!

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