“The Talk”

Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

Remember “The Talk”? You know the one when our parents got all fidgety and cleared their throats a lot; or the one in school when they used to separate the boys from the girls, and we giggled a lot? Maybe you’ve had to have “the Talk” with your own kids in recent years. Sometimes parents don’t even bother ’cause they figure the info is all over the internet so no big deal; they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it.

But, “The Talk” I am referring to is the one that HAS to be given in thousands of homes where our black or brown brothers and sisters live. Parents having this talk with their sons and daughters have to say things like: “never run down the street any time but especially in the evening; always keep your hands where they can be seen by everyone; always respond with respect and don’t even think of talking back to an authority figure ’cause they will never think you are just kidding.”

You might be thinking, what’s so wrong with those instructions?  Running, being disrespectful, those are things no one should do. But, have you ever had to tell your sons or daughters or students that they should not do these things because they might get shot or arrested, and that they  already have three strikes against them, the first and foremost being the color of their skin?

Thousands, hundreds of thousands, of families living in this land of the free and home of the brave live only in fear whenever the phone rings at night. These are good parents, maybe as single Moms or Dads, or maybe as nuclear as any family could get, who have tried to give their children a sense of hope but pray really hard every time the children walk out the door. I am not making this up, I have had Moms tell me how hard it is to have this talk, especially on the child’s first day of school.

At our Peace Center, we meet people of color all the time; some have lost a lot of confidence that they can do anything to change their future or anyone else’s for that matter. Frustrations run high because the system seems set up against them, most of the time in so many ways.

Have you ever thought of talking to your kids or your friends about what other kids might be experiencing? We don’t need them to feel guilty, but we do need them to be more aware. Would that “Talk: make you as uncomfortable as the one about sex? Why?

 

O Lord, bless the child who is resilient; and bless, O Lord, the child who is not.

Posted in Weekly Word

17 responses to ““The Talk”

  1. Thanks, Pat. I had in my mind’s eye and heart the clear faces of some of my black friends who have had this extremely painful conversation with their children. I can’t imagine what that must feel like.

    Peace,
    Luisa

  2. Pat, Your thought really stopped me in my “thinking tracks”! A reality warning that was never a part of my growing up life. There are a great many African-American children visiting Grandmothers here where I live, and you can be sure I will now consider their experience from an entirely new perspective. Thank you.

  3. Mother Therese pleaded with us to do small things with Great Love. IF WE CAN DO SMALL THINGS WITH EVEN SMALL LOVE we have much hope of leaving a legacy of Peace to the next generation. Our vision of victory must not be blinded by our present heartbreaking failures to have peace.

  4. Thanks Pat! Your words put the reality of “the talk” center stage. You challenge each one of us to find a way to engage this reality. It really is a matter of life and death.

  5. Wonderful blog, Pat! Makes so clear and concrete why we need to get behind the. Black Lives Matter movement in every way we can!

  6. Thanks Pat, we really have no idea what it’s like to walk in the shoes of people of color. All we can do is listen when they tell us! Pray God we learn to listen!

  7. Thanks, Pat, for your reflection. It is very timely and we need to be in dialogue and conversation and listen more to our brothers and sisters of different races and color.

  8. Great blog, Pat. I agree we need to change the conversation to appreciate better the experience of the “other” and learn to see what others see, so differently from our own experience. I keep asking how that might happen and how we as peace-making people can do it better.

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