Parents and teachers, please use your discretion when discussing the subject of violence with your children. I encourage you open a dialogue on violence, bullying and other subjects. These works of art may help you.
They came black booted in the night, red banners flapping overhead. They stole into homes and into beds, killing, beating and raping. Only the moon and the swastika were witness, all others turned their faces away.
As they burned through the countryside, they split children from their mothers and fathers before callously killing them on the side of the street or hanging them in an empty field. Black booted, they marched into the ghetto, guns blazing as the world faced another way.
It is estimated that 1.5 million children were killed during the Holocaust. Over a million Jewish children were slain, alongside hundreds of thousands of Romani and other ‘undesirables’ such as the physically and mentally handicapped. Those children that were not killed outright were branded with the yellow star, or other symbols of their heritage or class, and forced into labor, tortured, or experimented upon. These murdered children were most often under the age of twelve. This occurred across German occupied Europe between 1939-1945.
When they come, black booted and their sirens blazing, the community shuts its doors and draws its curtains tight. To the neighborhood, emergency sounds mean another black boy may die tonight.
On November 22, 2014, Tamir Rice was shot and killed by two police officers.
Tamir was in a park, with his toy gun. When the call was made to emergency services, Tamir was described as “a male sitting on a swing and pointing a gun at people,” “probably a juvenile.” Tamir was fired upon twice, fatally struck once in the torso. The investigation into Tamir’s death is ongoing but failures of justice and controversy surrounding police-involved deaths of other African American children has caused unrest in neighborhoods throughout the United States.
Tamir was 12 years old. This occurred in Cleveland, Ohio.
Hands up. Don’t shoot.
Red banded, the soldiers marched through the streets. Their shiny black boots made rhythmic sounds against the weary stones.
The first shrill whistle gave rise to the tumult, breaking the beat with a cacophony of staccato sounds. Whistles and shouts were punctuated by the sudden burst of gunfire.
Some say it was the young mothers who had it worst, their babes stolen, never to see beyond the huddled gray of the ghetto walls. But the children were separated. They were taken to gallows and mass graves where some must have stood innocently while others shivered in knowledge and fear.
On March 9, 2013, Kimani Gray was shot and killed by two plainclothes police officers. Kimani, affectionately called Kiki, was struck by seven bullets, three of which entered through his back. He was heard to cry the words, “don’t let me die.”
Controversy surrounding the event led to mini riots in New York neighborhoods and highlighted the growing tension between African American communities and law enforcement in the US.
There is no database for crimes committed by law enforcement against the people. This lack of data echoes Jim Crow, for it is the very function of government to ensure the safety of all its citizens. There is no oversight. The very agencies that may have committed crimes against American communities are solely responsible for the investigation and reporting of such crimes.
No indictment was made after the shooting of Kimani Gray.
He was 16 years old. This occurred in Brooklyn, New York.
“Hands up,” they shout as they take the boy away. His little heart races with the echo of his mother’s voice. His name becomes the speeding thump.
They surround him now, tall and black booted. A band of red on each of their arms keeps him shivering still.
There are other children now, crying and praying at the edge of a pit. The boy is with them. Looking down he can see the feet of the crying girl next to him. Her shoe has a hole worn through the side. He can see the pit, empty behind him, lumps of clay covering what lies beneath.
A sudden pop is the last sound he hears.
Hands up. Don’t shoot.
Silver stars on emblazoned shields promise protection, for some. When children such as DeAunta Terrel Farrow are gunned down for carrying a toy gun in their neighborhood (June 22, 2007, West Memphis, Arkansas) the disparity between white privilege and black reality becomes apparent: one mother teaching their child to go to the police, the other teaching him to avoid.
A blue holocaust is slowly devouring America’s children. Where blackness is a frightening assault to some who enforce the law, there will always be an imminent danger to the community. For when those who enforce the law break it, they weaken their relationship with the public. How many black boys lay dead in New World soil? We’ll never know. But we can change what was and build a better world. We can demand accountability. We can demand cameras on officers. We can prevent violence.
Hands up. Don’t shoot.
#BlueHolocaust is the second piece in a series dedicated to raising awareness and ending violence in the United States. This image shows three anonymous boys from the Holocaust in red and three African American boys killed in officer-involved shootings. The boys show are (from the top) Tamir Rice, Kimani Gray, and DeAunta Terrel Farrow. Please share this information across your social networks and help end violence.
#BlueHolocaust was on display at Ink & Clay 41 at the Kellogg University Gallery at Cal Poly Pomona from September 19 – October 29. It has also appeared at Orange County Creatives in Laguna Beach as part of the “In the Neighborhood” juried selection and at Long Beach [ART]Walk, and Augmented Reality Show displaying art digitally.