Imagine an America that prioritized directly confronting its racist legacy, not devising roundabout avenues to address the problem.
Timothy Loehmann, the Cleveland police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in November 2014, was fired by the Cleveland Police Department. Under any other circumstance, this would come as ready relief, this would be joyous news. Alas, we also learn that the reason behind his firing had nothing to do with the execution of Rice and, consequently, nothing to with racism.
According to a source, Cleveland PD fired Loehmann over a “technicality” in his cadet job application. That’s right, he was fired for falsifying his paperwork:
“Patrol Officer Loehmann had been charged with violations concerning his application process to considered a cadet with the Division of Police: Specifically, answers he had provided on his personal history statement,” said Michael McGrath, Cleveland Director of Public Safety.
Evidently, however, some critics – rightly so – are unable and unwilling to disconnect the city’s decision to fire Loehmann from the murder of Rice. Fielding questions about the potential backlash that could follow Loehmann’s termination, Chief Calvin Williams reminded critics that “There’s a 12-year-old kid dead,” no one was held accountable and “People on both sides are going to say it wasn’t enough, or it was too much. After over two years of investigation … we’ve come to what I think is a fair resolution to this process.”
Of course it was “fair.” Chief Williams and the Cleveland PD were able to cut off someone who became the weakest link in this public relations fiasco without owning up to the truth that nothing short of good’ ole fashion racial bias was the motivating force that propelled Loehmann to snipe away the life of a prepubescent black boy. Because in America, that’s what we do – dance around racism and the tragic incidents and structural disasters spawned from it.
Who were slaves? Low-wage workers, not shackled chattel whose humanity, in every sense of the term, was stripped from them, who simply lacked the fortitude to abandon their condition in search of a better one. What caused the Civil War? Some nebulous ether called the economy, not the battered, black bodies that comprised it. Why are the majority of black people poor, possess no wealth? Because of black-on-black crime, a proclivity for stealing pound cake and other cultural deficiencies crammed in the term black pathology. Look to those, not the systemic plundering of the black community by white pirates.
Blame any and everything except for the thing itself, the giant elephant in the room: racism, the heritage of white supremacy and white silence.
Anti-blackness and racist pogroms are the reasons Tamir Rice is dead instead of celebrating turning 15. But, our country is so adamant in its refusal to acknowledge the enormous role white supremacy plays in routing the motion of America’s social fabric that it refuses to pursue transformative justice on that valid charge, alone.
Imagine an America that prioritized directly confronting its racist legacy, not devising roundabout avenues to nip this ongoing and unresolved problem in the bud. Imagine an America that embraced that level of brutal honesty instead of repetitiously rejecting the obvious.
That America takes no issue with calling a spade a spade, with greenlighting reparation initiatives and similar, long-term corrective programs. Indeed, that America is substantially and fundamentally different from the one working class black people must currently navigate their way through. It is the one whose existence must continue to fight for — in the media, in the schools, in the air, on the ground — by forcing the nation to wrestle with the monster in the mirror, especially when it’s hellbent on taking every opportunity to hide from itself.
Featured Image: robonbd2014 Creative Commons