Why the killing of Tamir Rice hurts so bad.

On the afternoon of Nov. 22, 2014, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer. He had been playing in a park with a pellet gun. When police arrived on the scene, they shot Rice almost instantaneously.

On Dec. 28, 2015, a grand jury decided not to indict the police officers involved.


Rice's death comes in the wake of other cases of police violence — from Michael Brown in Ferguson to Eric Garner in New York. And it's a reminder of a harsh reality: In 2015, black men made up only 6% of the population but constituted 40% of the unarmed men shot to death by police.

We asked Stacia Brown to share her reaction — "For Tamir, Who Was Stolen" — with Upworthy’s readers today.

A protester holds a photo of Tamir Rice in Washington, D.C., in December 2014. Photo by Jose Luis Magana/AP.

The first thing I am pocketing is your name. Tamir, like something uttered in prayer.

We will all be saying it so much in the days to come, it will sound like a chorus of hushes in a holy place, a sacrifice, not of praise but of sorrow. I'm drawing it close to me — the sound of it on my lips, now, before all our commentary turns you into a cause, foreign and distant.

I’ve become adept at this, arriving at the scene early, committing key details to memory. After I turned your name — Tamir — over on my tongue, I Googled it. It means tall or owner of dates or palm tree or wealthy.

Your father says you were, in fact, tall for your age.

You were also wealthy in the ways that wind up mattering: spirit, intellect, creativity. 12 years old and already embodying the meaning of your name.

I will need to remember this, and it won’t be hard. I'm sure you had heard of the boys and the girls before you, all gone before their time. I am sure that, by 12, you may’ve had some sense that cops aren't kind to black boys who are tall for their age.

I have a system for marking tragedies like yours.

I've taken to following your mothers on Twitter, checking your siblings’ Instagram accounts, listening to your fathers’ interviews, all for more insight into you. I sigh with strangers, cry with strangers, and try to conjure you as someone three-dimensional, someone whose breath I can imagine feeling on the back of my neck as you laugh raucously with friends, sitting behind me on a city bus.

You need to remain real for me, Tamir, because you were real and you were 12. And you had every right to reach adulthood, marveling that you made it.

We all marvel at where we wind up when we’re grown. We think:

I could’ve been pulled over by a cop while on a date with a guy who had a gun or weed in his glove compartment.

I could’ve been asleep in my living room as SWAT raided the wrong black family’s house (or the right one’s).

I could’ve been whiling away an afternoon in my yard or at a playground, like you were, when cops arrived, ready to shoot.

I could’ve made too little money to live in a safe community.

I could’ve lived in the “safest” community there is and still been black and still been murdered and still been blamed.

I could’ve made bad choices or had my good ones go unrewarded.

This could’ve gone so much worse.

Then we breathe deeply and honor the moment as it is: a better outcome, a sparing, a miracle.

We remember children and women and men like you most acutely in these moments, how maybe you were just minding your business, just daydreaming or playing pretend. Or maybe you were pleading to be seen as someone real.

Maybe your eyes begged: Before you unholster your weapon, look at the nubs of my fingernails.

See how I chew them down till they bleed, how the pads of my fingers puff around them so that it’s hard to pop the tab on a soda can?

Before you disengage the safety, look at scar on my left shin. That’s where I wiped out on my bike when I was 7 and tried not to cry because my boys were watching.

Before you rest your finger on the trigger, look at these waves in my hair. My uncle taught me how to brush along with the grain. Before you shoot, my daddy is around.

Before you shoot, know I make my mama laugh. I am real. It makes me proud to make my mama laugh. I am human. I failed science. I am real. I stole a candy bar once. I am human. I might’ve planned to shoot this BB gun at birds. Before you shot.

We will never know what you were thinking, if you had time to think. We’ll never know exactly how afraid you must’ve been.

You, specifically. Tamir E. Rice, 12-year-old boy who died the day after being shot by police at a playground in Cleveland. You, whose eyes in the first photo released to the public, are soft and kind and so age-appropriately childish, the kind of eyes that couldn’t have known what else to do with a toy gun than play with it.

We will never have the privilege of knowing you as anything other than teary anecdotes, than memories offered up to the court of public opinion as closing arguments.

But God help us if we ever stop imagining you, Tamir.

Have mercy on our souls if we stop trying to resurrect you with vivid, near-futile envisioning. I am touching my hand to the tenor of your name in my pocket. Tamir. I am thinking of you as taller still, as wealthy in the ways that should matter.

You are rich, and you are grown and, now, your eyes are more discerning. But there is still wonder in the glint of them as you marvel over where you’ve wound up.

You think: I could’ve been mistaken for menacing. I could’ve pulled my airsoft pistol in a moment of play, and police may’ve been present, poised to kill me. Wouldn’t that have been wild? Wouldn’t that have been my family’s worst horror?

You think, in your house made of crystalline air, your home in the Great By and By: Thank goodness I live in a world where things like that never happen.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."