Holding Onto innocence

Photo by David Gonsier

Photo by David Gonsier

The Beginning

I was working at home after college, at a time when there were 3 generations living under one roof, and on my lunch break my nephew asked me why police were shooting little boys. He was 5 years old at the time. This was also the first time as an adult that I’d been presented with the challenge of explaining state sanctioned violence to a young Black child in my family. Just as my parents have done for me.

Revealing a truth about America’s relationship with Blackness unto a child’s eyes exists as rite of passage for both the child and the adult. The challenge is to honestly and adequately reveal America to the child while keeping as much of their innocence intact. We must also asses how which parts of the child’s innocence to strip away to ensure their survival.

Holding Onto Innocence looks at the double meaning behind the word "innocence", and explores the attempt Black Americans have of preserving a black child's innocence and the life-preserving balance of remaining innocent of a crime. This work is reflective of a conversation I had with my then 5 year old nephew where I attempted to explain the killing of Tamir Rice while keeping his childhood innocence intact. This conversation echoed the conversations my parents had with me, urging me towards absolute exceptionalism to stay out of the judicial system and innocent any crime in hope of ensuring my survival.

Judson Church Showing

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