Tamika Mallory breaks silence on Samaria Rice critiques: ‘We all failed her’

'Speaking about me without knowing me has absolutely hurt,' she said of Rice's words, 'but, again, I understand.'

Activist and author Tamika Mallory has broken her silence on critiques levied at her by Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old child killed by Cleveland police in 2014.

Rice recently called out Mallory for what she called “monopolizing” the fight for racial justice. In an interview on The Clay Cane Show on Sirius XM, Rice said that she should not have called Mallory out of her name, but said the young activist was “out of pocket” following her appearance on the Grammy Awards with Lil Baby.

Activist-author Tamika Mallory (left) had a response on her podcast to recent criticism from Samaria Rice (right), the mother of police-shooting victim Tamir Rice. (Photos by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images The Recording Academy and Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Days after the appearance, Mallory has responded on her Street Politicians podcast.

“From my perspective, I want to make sure that, as a mother, that I speak directly to Ms. Rice,” she began. She stated that she has reached out to Rice through “some other individuals.”

Mallory does not have direct contact with Rice, she said, but is open to speaking with her: “Everything hits social media so quickly, and we don’t always have the time for a direct conversation.”

She noted that people have been asking her for statements regarding Rice’s previous comments.

“I want to just make sure that we start off grounded in the fact that nothing we say today is an attack on Ms. Rice,” said Mallory. “Quite frankly, Ms. Rice is right. I support 100% how she feels and what she has stated in terms of her pain in terms of her son.”

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“I feel like we all have failed her,” Mallory contended.

“As a nation, whenever a child, or particularly any person, but particularly when a child is killed,” she said, “this nation should have erupted. The fact that she did not get the proper justice for her son would make anyone angry. So, I totally respect the pain and the trauma that she feels as a mother.”

Mallory maintained that “the issue of divisiveness has been used in every single movement and has destroyed movements. I don’t participate in it.”

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“I will never, ever allow my organization, my team, Until Freedom, or myself to be used as a tool in the master’s box,” she said definitively. “I think it’s important to clarify whether we have used Ms. Rice’s child, her baby, in campaigns or in speeches, fundraising, we have not.”

“Other than potentially calling the role of all the people who have been killed by the state,” Mallory continued, “I have been very careful not to speak about cases or individuals that I have not worked directly with the families. Particularly in this situation, whereas Ms. Rice stated, we never even met.”

She reiterated: “I would never be so disrespectful to speak about her child or have a campaign that uses her child or his name to uplift any cause. I think that’s really, really important to state.”

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“Ms. Rice has said that she wants me to not speak of her child,” said Mallory. “While I have not been doing it in the past, I will be very, very careful going forward to ensure that I respect her wishes. Even if we feel that we are using all the names in order to make a bigger point, we will be very, very careful not to disrespect her wishes.”

Despite Mallory’s clear intent to assure and comfort Rice, she did say she’s been hurt by Rice’s comments.

“Calling me out my name, speaking about me without knowing me, has absolutely hurt,” said Mallory, “but, again, I understand. And because of the fact that I do this work, that we do this work from a very, very authentic place. I may not have lost a child, but I did lose my child’s father, and it wasn’t to police brutality, but I understand loss. And I fight every day to ensure that I don’t have to experience what so many mothers of young Black men have experienced.”

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“Because I understand that pain and trauma, I would like to tell Ms. Rice today that I am available to be supportive,” she continued, “and if necessary, I’m here for phone calls, I’m here for any type of conversations with any family that would like to reach out and talk about the death of their child or some tragic situation that has happened to them.”

She clarifies that while she has been working in the social justice space for more than 25 years, her organization Until Freedom is just one group among many doing crucial advocacy.

“Again,” Mallory said, “under no circumstances would we ever be so disrespectful to use the name of any person, child or otherwise that we have not worked directly with their family or been directly asked to uplift their child’s name or their family member’s name while we are out doing our work.”

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Tamika Mallory
Tamika Mallory (Photo: Getty Images)

Street Politicians co-host Mysonne the General said that he empathized with Rice’s sentiments “as a human being.” He said that he didn’t take her statements personally, but he did take criticism from the media personally.

He said Rice’s opinions are valid for her, but he was proud to see Mallory on the Grammy Awards stage, “not for the glitz and glamour,” but using her platform from a place of power in demanding justice and equity for Black Americans.

“I’m going to advocate every time I can on every platform that we stop police brutality,” Mysonne said, “that we stop mass incarceration … And I don’t care how people think about that.”

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He praised Mallory saying that she has done “the work” for 25 years.

“In terms of people saying that we are clout-chasing,” Mallory said, “I want it to be clear, it’s important to also challenge the media to do real work and do real research. If you actually talk to families that I have worked with for 25 years, you will not hear sentiments like we are clout-chasing or that we used their children.”

She noted that many families she has worked with have reached out to her over the past few days to offer their support. She said she has the support of Breonna Taylor’s family and George Floyd’s family specifically.

Mallory — who will release a new book, State of Emergency: How We Win in the Country We Built on May 11 —said that even years later, Until Freedom remains close to many people who have lost loved ones to police violence.

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