Parents of teenaged Black boys know about the conversation we are obligated to have with our sons as we send them out into a world in which they can be misjudged and endangered simply because they are teenaged Black boys. Because we need them to stay safe, we know we have to tell them what to do and how to act if they are stopped and unfairly and falsely accused by a police officer or any other authority figure. And we have to tell our sweet, lovable young men to be ready for this as we try to give them a sense of confidence and self worth. It is one of the hardest conversations a parent has to have with a son.
A filmmaker and producer have teamed up to create “The Conversation”, a very short (5 minute) documentary in which a variety of parents explain the different ways in which they deal with these discussions with their sons. It is gripping, powerful, and so familiar to those of us who have been down that road. Please take the time to watch this. It is on the NY Times website, which you can find here.
We at GCP have been thinking and talking about “the conversation” pretty much since this blog began. Three years ago, we interviewed Dr. Michael Thompson, renowned expert on the development of boys, and asked him a series of questions about raising Black boys. We asked:
What guidance can we give our sons about their behavior in school, stores, or in any police encounter, which takes into account the fact thatthey may be unfairly viewed with unwarranted suspicion? How can we instill a sense of confidence in them in the face of this reality?
Racial profiling and suspicion of black boys is widespread and always humiliating. As soon as a boy is old enough to understand it, both his mom and dad have to talk to him about it, explain racism, tell him that it is hateful behavior,
but that he has to be aware of the way some people are going to see him when he is in a store.
The truth is ugly, but your son will need to be equipped with it.
Our sons will need to be equipped with the truth, indeed. Watch “The Conversation”. Let us know how you have it (or plan to have it) with your sons. We need all the help we can get with this one.