Tamir Rice’s mother Samaria called on America to address racism and inequality, warning that it’s the entire country that will pay the price
“The conversation that needs to happen in America right now, is definitely [about] racism. And it can be uncomfortable,” Rice said, adding that sometimes “it’s OK to make people uncomfortable.”
Rice, whose 12-year-old son was killed by Cleveland police in November 2014 while playing with a toy gun, said that the country needs to start having these hard conversations about race “or America is going to crumble in front of your eyes.”
Rice spoke during a panel at the 2016 Television Critics Association summer press tour on Thursday for the upcoming PBS documentary “The Talk.” The film, slated to premiere in 2017, is directed by Sam Pollard and looks at how African-American families are forced to teach their young children how to behave during interactions with the police.
“If law enforcement comes along, you’re supposed to go into passivity immediately,” explained “Boyz in the Hood” director John Singleton, who appears in the documentary. “That’s inherent racism to me.”
“You can’t ask a question,” he continued. “It’s not fair. It has nothing to do with the constitution or democracy. It’s human rights.”
Executive producer Julie Anderson said that the documentary also tackles the issue of policing from the perspective of the officers and the training they receive because “it’s not fair to demonize them.”
“These are human lives that we’re talking about,” retired NYPD Sergeant Trevena Garel said. “We have to play Monday morning quarterback because they’re not doing what they’ve been trained to do … We still have to hold these officers accountable because they are taking human lives.”
The issue of race in policing has become a prominent issue in the 2016 election with several high-profile shootings of unarmed black men drawing uproar from the public. But Garel says that just because media is paying attention now, that doesn’t mean this is a new issue facing the United States.
“These are conversations that black parents have been having with their children for generations. It’s only now that it’s being publicized,” he continued. “This is now in your face, and you can’t hide from it. The white community has been able to hide from this for a very long time.”
“The documentary is much needed to open up this conversation, this dialogue, in America,” said Rice. “Yeah it’s uncomfortable, but you have to start somewhere.”