Updated, 11:19 a.m. EDT, Friday, March 19, 2021: This story has been re-edited and restructured to reflect that Melina Abdullah did not specifically reference anyone in her video where she called out critics of the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Tuesday, The Root reported that Samaria Rice, Tamir Rice’s mother, criticized Until Freedom founder Tamika Mallory over her part in rapper Lil Baby’s police brutality-themed Grammy performance.
Rice also named others who she sees as opportunists who exploit Black death for elevated statuses like civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and S. Lee Merritt, who she characterized as “ambulance chasing.”
Later, Rice took things further by joining Lisa Simpson—the mother of Richard Risher, who was fatally shot by LAPD officers in 2016—in calling out Mallory, Crump, Merritt, Shaun King, Patrisse Cullors, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation and BLM Los Angeles co-founder Melina Abdullah, all of whom they accused of “parading in the streets accumulating donations, platforms, movie deals, etc. off the deaths of our loved ones, while the families and communities are left broken.”
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Shortly after the statement was released, Abdullah posted an Instagram video that some speculated was posted as a response to Simpson’s and Rice’s plea that activists keep their sons’ name out of their mouths. In the video she accuses critics of BLM as being manipulated into disrupting the movement by the state.
“I want to remind folks that there’s only three reasons that people would try to disrupt a movement,” Abdullah said. “Either they work for somebody other than the people, either they’re driven by ego or their pain is being manipulated by the state.
“And so I’m not going home just cause somebody said ‘go home,’” she continued. “I will not do that. I will fight until my last breath until my people are free, and God has told me that my last breath is going to be a long time coming. I am here for the fight in the long term as are my entire crew. Ashe, Ashe.”
To be clear, at no point during the video does Abdullah mention Rice or Simpson by name, but the timing of the post is curious. In Rice and Simpson’s statement, Abdullah and the others are explicitly asked to “step down, stand back and stop monopolizing and capitalizing our fight for justice and human rights.” So when Abdullah posted a video soon after declaring that she will “not going home just cause somebody said ‘go home,’” it’s really hard to imagine what brought that on if not the call for her and the rest to step back.
At the end of the day, Rice and Simpson are simply trying to remind high-profile activists and activist groups that their Black sons—as well as the Black sons and daughters of countless others who were victims of police violence—were actual human beings who were loved and are grieved and that they are not just symbols to decorate protest banners with. And while the activists in question aren’t obligated to agree with what has been said about them, they certainly shouldn’t dismiss the parents of high-profile police brutality victims—people who will still live with these tragic deaths when the cameras aren’t around and when the protests end—without even considering that the way they perform activism might be doing harm.
The movement isn’t being disrupted just because activists are being called out.
Anyway, as The Root’s Ishena Robinson previously reported, “Simpson said she and her children are facing homelessness, while Rice is seeking funds for the Tamir Rice Foundation.”
You can send personal donations to the women through Cashapp to $SamariaRice and $LisaLee693