Rapper Lil Baby used his platform on the Grammy stage to make a statement about police brutality. It began with actors pretending to shoot and kill actor and activist Kendrick Sampson. Lil Baby comes out on stage with his verse. Shortly after that, the camera cuts to another activist Tamika Mallory delivering a poem behind a podium, a scene meant to look like a protest.
Looking directly into the camera, Mallory spoke specifically to the leader of this nation.
“President Biden, we demand justice, equity, policy and everything else that freedom encompasses. To accomplish this, we don’t need allies. We need accomplices. It’s bigger than Black and white. This is not a trend, this is our plight until freedom, Until Freedom, UNTIL FREEDOM.”
For most people the moment was seen as powerful and appropriate given everything we’ve been fighting for in the past year and since we were unwillingly transported to this country.
But there was one person who took issue with the performance.
Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by Cleveland police officers when he was simply playing with a toy gun outside, was not amused.
Samaria received a $6 million settlement but the FBI determined that Rice’s death was “justified” and Timothy Loehmann, the officer responsible for taking Tamir’s life, acted reasonably.
Unless you’ve lost a child at the hands of police and were then told his death was “justified,” none of us can begin to even imagine what Samaria has experienced and is still living with to this day.
Sharing a clip of the performance, Samaria wrote this on Facebook:
“Look at this clout chaser. Did she lose something in this fight? I don’t think so. That’s the problem. They take us for a joke. That’s why we never have justice cause of sh*t like this.”
“I have tried to stay off this sh*t. Tamika and the crew you b*tches chasing clout along with Sonney, Crump, and Lee. Y’all have literally f*cked our fight up. I hope not another family soul used y’all to represent them…
Y’all might as well be junior pig cops…
I’m mad as hell.”
“I’m tired of you Black Lives Matters (Tamika Mallory and crew) b*tches that’s riding these family back [sic] and y’all ambulance chasing Attorneys (Ben Crump, Lee [Merritt]) too y’all have f*cked up our fight and y’all can kiss my a$$ too…
Make it make sense…You can’t…Working with the devil is easy too [sic] do. F*ck y’all.”
To be clear, Tamika Mallory has specifically stated that she is not a part of the Black Lives Matter organization. Her particular movement, as she mentioned in her piece, is called Until Freedom.
Again, I can’t imagine what Samaria is experiencing. And this is far from the first time Tamika and any other activist has been accused of using Black death and Black pain to increase their brand.
In an interview with The Root, Mallory explained that Breonna’s family was consulted and agreed to all the events that took place during convention—including the controversial Bre-B-Q.
Mallory said, “The work that UntilFreedom is doing has helped Breonna’s name to trend more than once, including yesterday. Under normal circumstances, Black women fade from the media very easily when these types of situations happen.”
While Mallory couldn’t guarantee that keeping Breonna’s name in the zeitgeist would result in justice, she knows that her raising awareness about the murder has made it impossible for officials to ignore Breonna.
“The more that there is attention on a case, at least the officials can’t sweep it under the rug, which is what was happening before we got here—because Breonna Taylor was killed in March,” said Mallory.
I don’t know what the solution is. But I can say the onus lies primarily with her inherently racist justice system, from the cops on the street to the judges on the benches. Whether Tamika reads a poem at the Grammy’s or not, the system is still racist and as much as Black people have done, for centuries, to change this. The power is ultimately lies with the leaders of those racist institutions.
What do you make of Samaria Rice’s comments?