Reece Williams – A Letter For Tamir Rice

A Letter for Tamir Rice

When I first read of your assassination,

I was already spent on grief:

For Emmett, Amadou, Oscar, Eric, Trayvon, Renisha and Mike.

My well of mourning is running dry

I’m drawing on the coppers

At the bottom of the wishing well,

It’s hard but necessary to be reminded so frequently

That we this strange fruit will never be too far from the lynching tree.


You left your house that day, armed

With an arsenal of ambition,

Loaded with hope and

Ready to explode with potential

Like fireworks across the Cleveland skyline,

Commemorating the new year

You weren’t allowed to enter.


I remember what it was like to be a 12 year old Black boy,

It was hard enough to keep the mind clear,

Without being burdened with knowing

that from birth until death,

You will live your life

Inside the eye of a crosshair,

Potentially just 28 hours from death by Police

or death by racially motivated murder,

Constantly shrinking yourself to fit into inhospitable places,

Governed by people who think they are doing you a favour

By letting you breathe.


And it’s wrong,

You had to adjust to life in a world

Where the humanhood of Blacks must be asserted, daily.

This is not the peace of justice

Dr King and his generation marched in solidarity for.


And it’s unfair,

That the media will question your skill at living cautiously

rather than your right to live happily,

But will not probe why one of your murderers was a frontline officer

Despite being deemed unfit for Policing.

The mainstream media will partake

In the demonisation of your character,

You will be presented as the villain

Rather than the victim of a modern day lynching.


The inquest into your murder

will be nothing more than perfunctory.

A Grand Jury will decide

that your death certificate was not signed

When the 9-1-1 dispatcher asked the caller

whether you were Black or White,

Not once but twice.


They will not apportion accountability

For your killers giving you just 2 seconds to react

To their supposed calls of ‘put your hands up’,

Before shooting you twice in the gut,

And forcing you to spend four of your final,

conscious minutes in the presence of your murderers,

Deprived of your right to first aid,

Or the comfort of having your 14 year old sister by your side

As you bled into the afterlife.


I’m sorry that you never lived long enough to learn

That the difference between childhood mischief

And presumed juvenile criminality

Is not the difference between an authentic firearm and an air gun,

But the difference between Black skin and White skin.


Dear Tamir, I promise to write down and speak up

Until the world and in years to come,

The history books, speak of your name

And the countless others,

In the same breath

as genocide.