This morning’s news featured an interview of a very attractive and articulate young (30s) professional Black woman and her male complement. They talked about this week’s tensions. They talked about having “the talk” with their children. They noted that the conversation needs to happen as early as possible and in age appropriate vocabulary and concepts.
The talk in these times is not the one about dating and sex. Today the talk in Black families and families that are comprised of individuals who can be considered part of the African Diaspora, is about how to handle yourself when in the presence of peace officers or in public places outside of a Black ghetto. I’ve not been involved in these types of conversations but it doesn’t take a lot to intuit what it covers. As the years have passed since the Civil Rights Era, experiences have grown and awareness was spat in my face. There are some people who will hate you simply because they have been conditioned to do so over the years. It has nothing to do with you, personally, as much as it has to do with the color of your skin and the stereotypes associated with having that form of identity.
But Life is full. There are many things that pull at your attention that are of a higher priority than a genetic adaptation that has absolutely nothing to do with the character of the person within the shell that carries them. Nevertheless, there are far too many times when that adaptation along with the stereotypes that were created because of historic exclusion and denial make attention to one’s physical presence the priority. It should not be that way.
How do you tell a child that it isn’t okay to go to the playground without a parent or adult present? It takes a lot of explaining about why one child may play with a red clear plastic water gun while romping in their yard or in a park while another child will be mistaken as a potential shooter. It takes even more explanation about why a police officer is justified in shooting a ten-year-old child in the back several times merely because of a plastic toy. Oh, now I understand. Certain children are not allowed to play and have toys. Certain children are not allowed to enjoy Life. We are told, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Declaration of Independence does not function for them.
How do you tell a child that because of the color of their skin, someone will decide that they are dangerous and anything they do will be construed as a threat to the general public? It should not be part of a child’s education about them or their history that they are inherently not intelligent and therefore unqualified for anything except the most menial. They should not learn that it is acceptable for their creations, their ideas, their work to be claimed by others and their input given no acknowledgement whatsoever. To teach them that is the same as teaching them that they were destroyed at the instant they took their first breath. It’s the same as telling them they are value-less. I have to wonder where society would be were it not for those “value-less” contributions to so many industries by those unqualified dangerous ones.
Why should it be necessary to have that type of conversation with any child? The simple response is it should not be necessary. In fact, there should be no reason to have these types of conversations. It should not be necessary to teach a child that what they wear will determine whether or not they are dangerous. If the owner and found of Facebook can wear a hoodie with impunity, anyone should have the same choice.
To be certain, it is very important to have a conversation about grooming and appropriate dress for certain venues.
However, the talk needs to veer toward the important things in Life and leading a productive one. The talk needs to be about staying focused on what is most important for accomplishing the task, reaching the goal, making a point in conversation so that one’s positive abilities are accentuated. Those abilities include being responsible, having solid emotional intelligence, knowing how to make good choices based on good research and asking the right questions of the right people.
- Natural and Legal Rights
- Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government
- What Is a Democracy?
- Right to Education
- Civil Rights definition
- A Safe Place to Talk About Race: 10 Thought-Provoking Interviews with Sharon E. Davis from her VoiceAmerica radio show, “A Safe Place to Talk About Race.”
- Say It Loud: Middle-Class Blacks Talk about Racism and What to Do about It