The Protesting Body: Antigone and Tamir Rice’s Sister

Credit: Wieslaw Grzegorczyk

Reading Antigone in the light of her being the ultimate protesting body is awe inspiring. I originally read it in my high school English class, after Oedipus, the man who killed his own father, married his mother and had a children, all done unknowingly, as a tragedy. And what a tragedy it was. Antigone, is the story of a lady who has two brothers, one of them is killed after a fight between them broke out over who got to be the next in line for the kingship. After Oedipus’s death the two brothers decided that the throne would be shared between them. One year the eldest brother would rule, the next year the youngest brother would rule. It was meant to be fair, however, the eldest brother, Eteocles, refused to relinquish the throne to his brother. The brothers fought and both died. So Antigone’s Uncle, Creon, became king. He ordered that Eteocles would have a proper burial, but the youngest, Polynices, would not. He would be left alone to rot and have no rites of passage. Antigone did not think this was morally right, she had a duty to her brother and herself to make sure he had a safe passage into the Underworld, so she went out and disobeyed the order to leave the body to the elements. When Creon was informed that the body had been given rites, he ordered to find the culprit, Antigone claimed responsibility and accepted her crime. Creon was forced to punish her and so she was put to death.

Antigone knew that if she were caught she would be punished. She took the chance and did what her heart told her. It is just like the Tamir Rice case. A Black preteen was shot by the police. The boy was playing with a toy gun in the park. A concerned citizen phoned 911 and informed the dispatcher of the kid with the gun. The caller also told dispatch that the gun was probably a toy, however, the police who were dispatched were not informed. Tamir was shot on site. His sister was soon after arrested for running to the crime scene to hold her brother’s body after he was shot. Tamir died the day after the shooting. It is reported that the “gun” was an airsoft gun without the orange tip on the barrel of the gun. Tamir’s sister is just like Antigone. She, Tamir’s sister, defied the authority figure so she could say her final goodbyes and mourn over him.

The fact that they protested like this in both cases is such an act of defiance that the government could not ignore and had to be punished according to the law. Thankfully, Tamir Rice’s sister was let go afterwards, whereas, Antigone commits suicide. She went as far as protesting her death by not letting the government take her control or life from her. This is her ultimate and final form of protest.

Credit: Goodreads

These instances are protest because of the actions and what they mean to the authorities. Antigone’s complete disregard for her own life and love for her family, lead to her death. In Tamir’s sisters case, the same fraternal love she has for her own brother put her at risk to be shot. She is monumentally lucky that she was physically unharmed. These acts of bravery show the authorities that given the chance docile bodies will rebel.

Given the right set of circumstances, we can all protest and be a threat to the stability and power that the government has on us all.