I woke up this morning afraid. I woke up this morning sad. I woke up this morning angry.
Afraid for the 11 year old Black boy I have committed my life to.
Sad that the murder of Amir Locke brought me to tears.
Angry that I can’t protect the 11 year old Black boy in my care every step along the way.
As we prepared to head to school this morning my 11 year old son said to me—”daddy why did Amir Locke get killed?” As I paused to give him a response, I realized that I didn’t really have an answer…and I cried. While I certainly realized many years ago the dilemma of Black boyhood in America as a teacher and researcher, but for some reason it hit me harder this morning as we prepared to walk out the door to school…do we really want Black boys to grow up in America?
Discussing the Amir Locke murder on the way to school with my son, I found myself moving in and out of my academic analysis of the situation as a trained social science researcher; juxtaposed against my outright anger at even having to talk about this with a 11 year old Black boy. I shared as best I could what the situation was in Minneapolis. We talked about gun laws and what it means to be a legal gun owner. We talked about my childhood growing up in Detroit but being born in Atlanta. We talked about my fathers’ incarceration. As we slowly reached the entrance door of the school, my son turned to me as he got out of the car and said–”daddy don’t be sad or afraid, I have your back.” At that moment I knew that I was right to be afraid, sad, and angry.
Amidst all of the emotions I realized there is one true blessing in the conversation I had today–I was able to actually talk to my son and hug my son. The parents of Amir Locke won’t be afforded that blessing for the rest of their lives.
I honor the life of Amir Locke but also want to honor the life of my son John Simmons by acknowledging that I want all Black boys to be able to grow up…but I am also afraid for them…sad about the conditions they must navigate…and angry that I can’t always be physically present for my own Black son. Rest in power Amir Locke. And have a great day at school John Simmons.