During a recent interview with News One’s Roland Martin, Tamir Rice’s mother Samaria Rice spoke about her disappointment regarding LeBron James not speaking about her son's murder at the hands of the Cleveland Police Department and the lack of an indictment which followed.
"I think it's quite sad that LeBron hasn't spoken out about my son," Samaria Rice said in a videotaped interview posted Tuesday on newsone.com. "I'm not asking him to sit out a game. I know his kids got to eat too. But you can at least put on a shirt or something...I'm not asking nobody to quit their job or anything, but make a statement for us black people out here."
A mother is crying out for the man who once said he aspired to be like Muhammad Ali. To my heart, it does seem rather cut and dry. Perhaps he should have spoken out about the national proliferation of black males being shot and killed in disproportionate numbers by police departments, and specifically the Tamir Rice situation.
But I'm reminded on a daily basis that all things are seldom equal.
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
Even cursory research would highlight the magnificent work that LeBron James has done in the under-served communities of his hometown in Akron, Ohio, and in Cleveland as well.
Intelligent and articulate, LeBron has done, and continues to do, more for Black people than maybe 95 percent of the Black folks living in America today. Factor in all of the folks he employs in his various business endeavors, his philanthropic efforts and what he's certain to do in the future as his net worth increases because it's obvious that he cares about black people.
Samaria Rice’s hope that he would say something about the death of her son was well within the realm of possibilities, given what he has done in the past.
To ask him why he has not spoken up is fair, but his response in admitting being unqualified to speak for not having the necessary information is also fair.
But why is Lebron the only person experiencing this misguided backlash?
Questions of apathy can easily be spread out among the other members of the Cavaliers roster. Where is the uproar over Kevin Love's silence, along with Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavadova, J.R. Smith and Kyrie Irving.
How about the Browns and Indians as well?
There are other athletes who are articulate enough, conscientious enough, and intelligent enough to speak on these matters, but very few, if any, do so.
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
Remember the runaway slave narrative Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert's statement painted when LeBron decided to take his talents to South Beach?
I’m sure there were a number of black Cavs fans who only grudgingly decided to return to Quicken Loans Arena after LeBron returned.
And speaking of Quicken Loans, the corporation that Gilbert serves as a founder and C.E.O. of, it just so happens to be one of the financial institutions that thrived through its predatory lending practices, helping to feed the United States mortgage crisis by recklessly shoveling difficult-to-maintain home loans to the elderly and financially vulnerable.
An overture by Gilbert in response to the killing of Tamir Rice, and the subsequent lack of an indictment against the officer who took his life, is much more warranted than one from LeBron.
But nobody wants to call him to task, do they? To heap the full load of responsibility on LeBron is unfair. There's plenty to go around.
Samaria Rice has every right to cry out for help to an American icon whose image overshadows the Cleveland streets. But it is going to take a lot more than LeBron's open displeasure and discourse to make this numbing situation matter to the American populace as a whole.
Hey Dan Gilbert, you were pretty passionate and wrote a pretty nasty letter in the newspaper about LeBron exercising his hard-earned rights as a free agent to seek employment elsewhere.
Can you do the same for a child who was shot dead in cold blood by a police officer, solely because he was black?