The deaths of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks have reignited conversations about racism, unfairness, and the relationship between blacks and cops. The subject is also what surrounds a more personal talk that African American parents have had with their kids for years.
“My parents had it with me and sister,” Sanya Whitaker Gragg told CBN News. “My husband’s parents had it with him and all of our friends, we know that when you mention the talk, you’re referring to the conversation you have about interacting with law enforcement.”
Having “The Talk” with the Next Generation
Gragg, who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has since felt the need to extend this “Talk” to her sons.
“Make sure your hands are visible,” she recalls telling them. “Don’t put them in your pockets, you can’t reach for anything. The objective is for you to come home alive.”
Gragg first shared this message when her sons were younger. She recalled telling them why they even needed to be cautious playing with their water guns.
“We had to tell them they could only play with their water guns in the backyard,” said Gragg. “They couldn’t play with them in the front yard. They could not leave our yard and go to someone else’s house with these water guns. Because of the color of their skin, they are not always going to be perceived in a good light.”
Research from the American Psychological Association found that police are more likely to mistake black boys as young as ten, as older and less innocent. They are also likely to face violence by police.
12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police in Ohio in 2014 when his toy gun was mistaken for a real one.
Why “The Talk” Starts When They’re Young
Attorney Carla Kithcart said that tragedy is a concern for many black parents.
“There is a perception and a preconceived notion by lots of people who are the bad eggs, that if you come upon a black person, they are a certain thing,” explained Kithcart. “And because you see them as a certain thing or type, then you feel, maybe, afraid. You feel maybe disrespectful.”
Krystle Depass-Lynch and her husband began the talk when their three sons were in grade school.
“We have to tell them that there are some people that don’t, do not like you because of your skin color,” said Depass-Lynch. “Because you’re black. We’ve had to tell them that there are some people that are racist. Not all people are racist and we’ve had to tell them how to respond if they ever get pulled over.”
In light of recent events, Depass-Lynch said the conversation has become more vital.
“My son is going to be turning 15. He’s going to start driving soon and so we’ve had the talk and especially now with what’s happening,” she said.
Dr. Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas is also using these latest shootings as lessons for the next generation of young black men. Video of him sharing with them has been posted on social media.
“I just wanted my grandsons and reminding my sons, too, that because that propensity is there,” said Evans. “You have the responsibility to do everything you can to de-escalate a situation because you never know when it could go left.”
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