There are times when I am tensed and feeling down, and the only person that can change this is my friend Jennifer. She is good company, good at holding spirited debates, and is good with social media. When I go to her house, she uplifts me with entertaining Youtube and Facebook videos.
But suddenly I felt uncomfortable, something in her house had taken me aback. Something caught me off guard and made me uneasy. That something was a gun. Well, it wasn’t a real gun, just a toy gun, nonetheless, it was a convincing toy gun. “What is that doing in here!” I said as if I were the mother and she was the child. “That toy gun,” Jennifer said as if it were immaterial. “It’s Eric’s.” Eric is Jennifer’s son. Jennifer is black. Eric is black. Eric is a boy. A #blackboy.
If you’re black, perhaps a black parent with children, that equation has consequences. Yes, it concerned me that Eric had a gun as a toy but Jennifer came to Eric’s defense. She affirmed that he was responsible and intelligent. This I knew. I knew he was cognizant of the critical incidents involving unarmed #blackboys in America. But did he know about the incidents in Austin?
It’s not that I felt Eric was ignorant or irresponsible when it came to recklessly brandishing a fake gun that others would presume to be a real gun, or that he and the toy gun would play fatalist" target="_blank">Russian Roulette with an Austin police officer. It was the opposite. Because he was informed and in control of his own faculties, I felt his actions, that teen spirit, would have ceased to fit into the world of child’s play. I feared that his actions would be judged by other as, just another black teen that needed to be in the line of fire.
[stextbox id="African-American Shot by Police"] Tyree King, 13, Fatally Shot by Police in Columbus, Ohio 9/15/2016 | read more [/stextbox]
Black boys, guns, & America’s police
Black teens are held to a different social standard than white teens, are judged harshly if not unfairly; are treated more aggressively by society dating back to the 1900s, and unfortunately, have had their lives stolen by police.
Jennifer’s view seemed aligned with the United States Constitutional 2nd Amendment, the rights of the people to keep and bear arms (toy “arms” that is), and perhaps for her, I was infringing on that right.
I don’t think my response was melodramatic, not when the percentage of young black men killed by U.S. police is increasing daily, not when a staggering 1,134 young black lives have been claimed. I don’t want a harmless object—a simulated object that many conservative Americans believe would rationalize an increase in that number.
The essence of childhood, of course, is the nature of horseplay, which I hope he will do endlessly with education, games, and electronics, or on a football field-this way a police and their gun, will not have won.