Below is the letter I wrote to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff and Prosecutor on May 4th, 2015.
Dictionary.com defines suffering as to undergo, be subjected to, or endure pain, distress, injury, loss, or anything unpleasant. The black person’s extensive timeline of suffering begins in 1525 when the first slave entered this country. By no means do I wish to use your time as a way to educate on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, the Reconstruction, or the civil rights movement; however, with the unfortunate social events taking place in desolate urban cities, I am forced to analyze the state of Black America, in particular the unbalanced relationship between society and our black men.
From Ferguson, to Los Angeles, to Baltimore, to New York, the one common attribute all aforementioned cities share with Cleveland is that we, the Black community, have been suffering for far too long. I directly associate this suffering with the psychological impact of slavery from which we are still coping. The effects of slavery on the mind are more present today and we see that in the actions of whites and blacks alike. We are overly modest about the generations of American citizens, past and present, which has to witness the systemic damage occurring from a dehumanizing structure of greed called American slavery.
Fast forward to today and I see a country full of contradictions that places blame on everything but the root of the problem; that is, how we view one another. The underclass, underprivileged, and underappreciated group of blacks that make up this great city of Cleveland is treated as less-than and undeserving of the opportunity to excel and compete with our white, over-privileged, over-appreciated counterparts. Tamir Rice deserved a moment…a moment to reflect, a moment to dream, and a moment to live and pursue happiness. He was robbed of that moment...his moment.
As a native of East Cleveland, I am enraged but not surprised. I am optimistic yet aware of all potential outcomes. I am hopeful yet realistic to the fact Tamir may never see justice. I encourage you to put yourself in his shoes. Be that little black boy from a city that isn’t built to lift him up but instead to keep him in bondage by the forces of poverty, inadequate schooling, and scarce opportunities. We are all one community facing the same social injustices rather you realize it or not. On this quest to rebuild and reestablish the idea of “togetherness” in Cleveland, we are still divided by racism and classism. We have intangible barriers separating humans from humanity. That needs to end today.
Maya Angelou once said “A black person grows up in this country - and in many places - knowing that racism will be as familiar as salt to the tongue. Also, it can be as dangerous as too much salt. I think that you must struggle for betterment for yourself and for everyone.” I implore you to examine the state of Black Cleveland and how Tamir’s brutal death will catapult into something even more strenuous if not handled correctly. You have a great position of power and influence. I trust the system to work even when it has not in the past. Moreover, I trust that God’s will shall be done regardless of our input. Mr. McGinty, the city is watching. Take a stance that will revolutionize the relationship between politics and morality in Cleveland. Be the trendsetter. Be an advocate to end suffering among the overlooked taxpaying inhabitants in Cleveland. I thank you in advance.
Written exploration of ALL THINGS CREATIVE curated by Najah Lee -- writer, emcee, photographer, critical thinker and brand consultant.