Some clarity is emerging on the issues Samaria Rice recently raised regarding her discomfort with the more visible activists in the movement to end the deadly police violence against Black people in America.
Following the Facebook posts last week by Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, branding Until Freedom’s Tamika Mallory a “clout chaser” for an impassioned speech for justice she gave at the recently held Grammy Awards, the mother of Tamir Rice issued a statement calling on Mallory and several other prominent activists, including Shaun King, Melina Abdullah and BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors to refrain from using her son’s name in any of their public activities.
But speaking on a podcast over the weekend with rapper and activist Mysonne, Mallory clarified that she has never publicly used the name of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old who was shot dead by a Cleveland police officer in 2014, to uplift a cause.
“Other than potentially calling the roll of all of the people that we can think about at any particular time that have been killed by the state, I have been very very careful—have always been careful—not to speak about cases or individuals that I have not worked directly with the families,” said Mallory.
“We’ve never actually met or sat down, had a phone conversation, or met in any way,” she said of Samaria Rice. “I would never be so disrespectful as to speak about her child or to have a campaign that addresses her child or uses her child’s name to uplift any cause.
“While I have not been doing it in the past, I will be very, very careful going forward to ensure that I respect her wishes,” said Mallory of Rice’s recent demand that her son’s name not be used by activists in the larger movement.
Rice herself has acknowledged that she has never met or spoken to Mallory. However, the Until Freedom activist said that she has recently reached out to people who know Rice to try and open up a line of conversation.
“Nothing we say today is an attack against Ms. Rice,” Mallory added of her clarifying comments. “Quite frankly, Ms. Rice is right. I support 100 percent how she feels and what she has stated in terms of her pain related to her son. I feel like we all have failed her as a nation.”
Mallory did say she was “absolutely hurt” by Rice’s comments targeting her, which included several expletives, but added that she understands the mother’s anger and hurt at the lack of justice for her son’s killing.
“The one thing that I try my best not to do is get caught up in the divisiveness that I know can happen in this movement,” Mallory said. “I will never ever use my organization, my team, Until Freedom or myself to be used as a tool in the master’s box.”
Meanwhile, Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor who has worked closely with Mallory in keeping the 26-year-old’s name in the nation’s consciousness while calling for justice since her tragic killing by police, has come out in support of the publicly beleaguered activist.
“The family of Breonna Taylor fully supports and stands with Tamika D. Mallory and Until Freedom, just as they have with us,” said Palmer in an Instagram post on Monday.
While no one’s intentions can be fully known by any of us, very often movements are as complicated as the human beings driving them. I take Palmer at her word that Mallory and Until Freedom have been supportive and helpful to her family as they continue to mourn the unjust loss of their loved one. I don’t believe she is being manipulated into saying so or is being deliberately pitted against Rice, as some are already suggesting on Twitter. I respect and trust this grown woman’s agency, as I do Rice’s. I also take Tamir’s mother at her word that she feels angry and frustrated at seeing the increased mainstreaming and funding of a movement—and activists leading it—despite there being no actual consequences for the state agents who killed her son and their counterparts across the country, where even more Black people have been killed in the years since.
I implore all of us to continue to be discerning, while refraining from painting anyone as a singular villain or bad actor—without proof—in a war that continues to leave many of our people as casualties.
Another official response from Samaria Rice will be forthcoming, according to a statement shared by Rebecca Wilcox on Monday. “Thank you for believing in us and trusting that we will give you all the truth because we have nothing to gain out of this,” Rice said of her and Lisa Simpson, another mother who has joined her in going public with concerns about the Black Lives Matter movement and how it has treated families still mourning those killed by police.