Gun in a Black boy’s pocket


A. Van Jordan’s poem “Airsoft” dedicated to Tamir Rice made me sad and angry.

Tamir Rice

Just five days before Thanksgiving, on November 22, 2014, Rice was shot and killed by police at 3:30 pm in broad daylight at a recreation center in Cleveland, Ohio. His gun was an Airsoft replica whose pellets the boy was ignorant of and the police officer shot him dead thinking it was a real gun.

Was this done out of bias? Was this done out of centuries of hatred? Was this done out of prejudice? Was this done out of sheer brutality or dislike of the color of somebody’s skin or looks? Or, was this done by a mentally deranged individual? Was this a mistake? Was this miscommunication?

Who on earth would shoot a 12-year-old?


As mysterious as a cat in a box,

a toy gun in a Black boy’s pocket,

the gun neither dead nor alive,

unless offered a chance to empty

his pocket to solve the paradox

of what a day might hold. – A. Van Jordan. “Airsoft”

Western rugged individualism sometimes focuses on subjective written laws, a jury, and very rarely, common sense.

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