Tamir Rice should be celebrating his 18th birthday today, June 25. But at age 12, his light was dimmed, and the world still wonders why.

Rice was killed by Cleveland police in November 2014 and to add insult to injury, the officers who shot and killed the 12-year-old were never charged with a crime. After losing her youngest child, Tamir Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, knows all too well about pain and trauma.

Through her moments of darkness, Rice continues her son’s legacy with strength and dignity. The mother of four-turned-activist built the Tamir Rice Afrocentric Cultural Center, and as a public speaker, she shines a light on the oppression that Black and Latinx people still face in America.

Samaria Rice is also as authentic as she is fearless.

“I don’t have time to give nothing fake,” Rice tells The Root. Nearly six years after her son was slain, Rice says that nothing has changed. “It’s truly a shame that we are still here in 2020 with Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd,” she said. “Why are we still here? That is the question.”

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It is indeed confounding that time and time again, unarmed people of color are being killed due to state-sanctioned violence. But what if Black lives were honored and respected? What would have come of Tamir’s life if he were still alive?

The truth is, Rice isn’t sure. But she can say with certainty that her son was an exceptional child. A mom’s mom, the activist reminisces about her baby, revealing that Tamir was potty trained at 2-year-old and never rode his bike with training wheels—both accomplishments that any parent would be proud of. Rice also reminds The Root that Tamir had many talents and interests including soccer, basketball, football and art.

The world was literally his oyster.

“He was an exceptional child,” she said. “At 12 years old he was shooting 3s with the big boys on the basketball court; playing soccer with his school. He loved to help people. He loved to make people laugh.”

Listen to an excerpt of our interview above.

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