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.