New Nigga Spirituals: Tamir Rice and the Black American Dream

Dear Black Love,

As black people, “we are all just one bullet away from becoming a hashtag”; and unfortunately, here in America, that will never change.

The American dream is one theme that our country tends to pride itself on, even when all else fails. Being known as the land of the free and the home of the brave, America has commercialized and marketed the American dream since its inception, inspiring peoples from many different backgrounds and foreign lands to up and leave their entire geographic locations and immigrate to this country in hopes of finding a better life for their loved ones. However, unfortunately, unbeknownst to them at the time, they don’t quite yet realize that the American dream is nothing more than a hot, steaming pile of cracker shit. For white people, the American dream is merely to be rich and powerful. They dream of fame and fortune being served as flashy horderves at jewelry stores like Tiffany’s, as they feast on only the most exclusive artifacts of blood diamonds and gold stolen from the heart of Africa and other Middle Eastern countries. They dream of debauchery and sexual escapades and, ultimately, any and everything relating to the confines of individualist lifestyle. They build their success on the backs of those who are less privileged due to standards created and imposed by white culture, and dream of golden rivers in spite of the shitty nightmares that they have worked so hard to bring into fruition for everybody else. However, just across the bridge, or sometimes around the corner if you live in a city like Montgomery, AL, in that very same America, hidden by an aesthetic of spiritless churches, broken-down bandos, and lucrative liquor stores, the American dream for black folks is simply to be free. For black people, the American dream is the right to be able to live and not just survive. It is the right to be valued and treated equally. It is the right to have access to resources and education. It is the God-given right to be able to support and protect your family in order to see the growth and happiness of your bright-eyed, beautiful children. And if their perception of the American dream even remotely reflects the desires of the white American dream, that is only because they peep game, but misconstrue this as the path to freedom. For black people, belief in the American dream is, in many ways, the only ounce of hope that we possess, which is why I hold many reservations in trumping this level of undying optimism by relaying the unfortunate reality that black people will never be able to gain their liberation or reclaim their humanity within the confines of the United States of America. Now that statement may ruffle the feathers of a few birds or bright-eyed romanticists who may still believe that they will be able to attain their freedom in the U.S., and still work, diligently, yet, in vain, to appeal to the conscience of a soul-less American, white supremacist people. Nevertheless, I urge you to either tolerate me or cry trying because I’m not here to stroke or massage anyone’s nuts with lying lips: I’m here to bring truth! And to clarify the sentiment that was expressed earlier within the paragraph, no, you did not read the sentence wrong. From left to right, the conviction is as clear as the Hennessy glass that I use to drown the sorrows of witnessing and being a victim of black oppression in. Yet, in the case that you did not quite understand what was meant by that indisputable truth, and to reduce any chances of potential confusion, I will state it again. Black people will never be able to gain their liberation or reclaim their humanity within the confines of the United States of America, and here is why:

By 1961, the internationally renowned political thinker and Pan-Africanist leader, W.E.B. Dubois (who was also one of the key founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), had grown to be irreversibly fed up with the bullshit of the United States’ political, economic, social, and justice system. He had spent more than seventy years challenging the systemic apparatus of American politics and crusading for the development of black universities for higher learning that would be instrumental in culturing the minds of black youth, which was a lifestyle that cost him NUMEROUS consequential responses from the federal government, including constant surveillance and the suspension of his passport due to the suspicion of his involvement in the Communist Party during the entire era of the McCarthyism. Finally, in 1961, after considering the notions of how irredeemable the U.S. actually is, Dubois decided to renounce his U.S. citizenship and leave the country forever. In a letter to Grace Goens, one of his closest and most endearing comrades, he penned his final remarks about the destiny of black Americans stating:

I just cannot take any more of this country’s treatment. We leave for Ghana October 5th and I set no date for return…. Chin up, and fight on, but realize that American Negroes can’t win.

After his emigration to Ghana, Dubois went on to become a guest and citizen under the political revolutionist and then president, Kwame Nkrumah, whom had extended the very invitation for Dubois’s emigration. Dubois would remain in Ghana until his death in 1963, just days before the infamous March on Washington, which was, ironically, an event that he had attempted to organize about sixty years prior. Thus, with regards to all that had transpired in the years leading up to the demise of this great African thinker, I believe that Dubois would have most definitely agreed that black people would never be able to gain their liberation or reclaim their humanity in the United States.

In analyzing the current condition of black America, from the culture of internal and external poverty that has been influenced by the oppressive anti-black order of the state, to the normalized murder and incarceration of black bodies that has brainwashed many of the youth into believing that the avenues of early death or imprisonment are their “rites of passage” (just as it is the “rites of passage” for white youth to be pampered in the midst of bitching about not being given the entitlement to kill, rape, and oppress other groups of people), it is safe to say that black Americans exist in a constant state of Post-Traumatic Slave Disorder, and the recent exposure of police-killings only reinforces the energy of that space.

It must be noted that I, as the researcher, am not immune to the effects of the anti-black disease and imposed experience in anyway. From watching how the crack epidemic affected my aunt, or how the corruption of former resistance groups turned street gangs landed my brother in prison, or how AIDS plagues my father and HIV has affected many other close members of my family, or how the destruction of the black family broke my home and left me with an absentee father, or even just how the slave mentality embedded within many people in my family and friend groups continues to flourish, I have not been able to run away from the inescapable experience of being black in America and I know that the system will never let me. Even though I have been fortunate enough to not have to grow up impoverished and was able to make it all the way to Howard University, I still believe that these small individual victories are miniscule in relation to the larger scale of the oppression of the black community. And even with these concessions that I have been granted, I still firmly believe that victory in America for black people is quite a distant and self-medicinal fantasy. A dream. We will not win in America and the recent failure to indict the filthy, fascist, racist terrorists who murdered a twelve-year old child named Tamir Rice from Cleveland, Ohio only confirms this idea.

On November 22, 2014, Tamir Rice was shot and killed by a police officer named Timothy Loemann after Rice was suspected of brandishing a gun on the playground of a recreational center by a nearby resident, even though the witness had informed the emergency dispatcher that the gun was “probably fake.” The object that Rice was holding in his hand, a BB gun, which children all over the nation play with daily, was alleged to be the cause of Tamir’s death; however, every black person in America knew that the sole reason for the death of our fallen son was simply because he was a black child. Officer Loemann asked no questions and took no hesitation. The execution was similar to a drive by, and before the police cruiser had even finished arriving, Officer Loemann had hopped out of the vehicle and proceeded to unload two shots from his clip into the body of a twelve- year old, innocent and beautiful black child who had his entire life ahead of him. Tamir’s body couldn’t take the impact made from the bullets and he died on the scene. Tamir Rice would continue to die every day after that, as well. He died every night on the evening news as the media attempted to assassinate the character and legacy of this small boy by portraying him as a “thug”, or a “criminal”, and even going as far as attempting to criminalize his family for being “irresponsible” and allowing him to play with a toy gun in the first place: complete utter and disgusting bullshit.

On December 28, 2015, the sleazy Ohio grand jury found the actions of the terrorists reasonable and refused to indict them on any charges. This was nothing new. We had seen this chain of events occur in the death of Mike Brown, and would see it happen again in the aftermath of the execution of Sandra Bland and Freddie Gray. But what was different about this time was that the victim was a small child. Consider that shit: In America, black children are not even allowed their childhood and are seen as threats to the system before they even leave the haven of their mother’s womb.

If it ain’t one thang, it’s a motherfuckin’ ‘nother. If it ain’t slavery and slave codes, its Jim Crow and black codes. If it ain’t Jim Crow, its mass incarceration and police brutality. And if it ain’t mass incarceration, I don’t know what it will be, but it will most likely be something. Concessions mean nothing in the struggle for the humanization of our world because they don’t guarantee you governmental recognizance of your humanity and the God-given rights that come along with it. You can never fully reform a system that produces rotten fruits if the roots of the system grow from poisonous seeds. This is one reason why, though I am inspired by the spirit of activists like Deray McKesson, I am very saddened by their naivety. He and his comrades fight for police reform and desire so much to gain victory for black people in America. Nonetheless, their efforts will be in vain. Black people can’t win in America. As long as America lives, so will the oppression of every group of people who is not a racist, white-bred, fascist, imperialist, chicken-shit cracker! And that’s not racist or pessimistic, it’s just real as fuck. White people would never involve themselves in or allow a reformation of the system that, since its birth, has and continues to disproportionately disseminate power amongst the American people. From prison labor to the educational disenfranchisement that feeds black people into the lower levels of the political economy, white people depend on the oppression of black people as a means to maintain the social obesity of their society, and its insane to believe that they would do otherwise. If my plug always serves me loud but gives everyone else reggie because he hates them, why would I change who my Tambourine Man is (as Bob Dylan would call him)? He always plays the songs that I like, and I get high every-time. This is how the American system works for white people.

We live in a country where the system fears and attacks any hint of black economic elevation because it will upset the racial hierarchy. We live in a country where even in the midst of the state’s reinforcing of the idea that black people are subhuman and not deserving of human rights, our own black president won’t stand up and defend the very black lives that got him elected in the first place. We live in a country where the very fabric and foundation of this nation depends on black people being oppressed by the system that claims to protect them. Policy reform of such a murderous and self- righteous system does nothing if it does not completely demolish that system. So once again, I must reiterate that black people will never, and I mean never be able to gain their liberation or reclaim their humanity within the confines of the United States of America! And anybody who still believes in the legitimacy of the American system is smoking crack; and trust me, I got an ounce for their ass.

However, just because black people will not win in America, does not mean that black people will not win, at all. On the contrary, there is a huge possibility that we will be able to secure our victory without even having to leave this very land! This land is ours, even if the American dream is not. I can recall a class that I took last semester at Howard entitled Black Education in America. One of the only lectures that I remember from the class was one in which my professor, Dr. Greg Carr, revealed to the class his fear that black people would never be able “to fully realize their humanity in this country” due to the slave mentality that is so embedded in our genetic memory and enforced in American culture, a notion which I agreed with to a degree. In doing so, we would probably be able to save America. However, we cannot save America, and the truth is why would we want to? As the late Marvin Gaye once said why be “ willing to try to save a world that’s destined to die?” Upon the destruction of such a sin filled country comes the opportunity of building a new nation that can promise freedom and prosperity. Is that not what we want? Isn’t that what we desire? Don’t you want to be free; and, how far are you willing to go to attain your freedom? For if it is the case that black people can never be able to gain their liberation or reclaim their humanity within the United States of America, then maybe it is also the case that the United States of America should just no longer exist…

Sincerely,

Black Power.