There is no other experience like the experience of a young black man in America. Trying to explain the experience is just as hard as living through it. With the death of unarmed teen, Michael Brown, once again we are reminded of the ugly relationship between our black men, our black communities, and the folks deemed to protect and serve. It is once again open season on young black boys.
Growing up, I never understood why my mother was so over protective of my brother and me. I thought it was because we were so curious and mischievous, but I later realized she knew something that we didn’t. She knew that the world in front of us would be filled with hatred, misunderstanding, and possibly death because of the color of our skin. She had two young black men to raise, double the worry. As we got older she never missed an opportunity to explain to us why we had to do things differently than some of our peers. She explained it in a way that didn’t make us believe we were inferior, but definitely different. It has almost become second nature for black families to have certain talks with their boys to ensure they understand that the world is a dangerous place for them.
If we can do anything to ensure the protection of our young men, we can prepare them for the tribulations they will face in their futures. Below, I have put together a guideline of topics every black family should discuss with their children, especially their boys. Knowledge is the most important agent of change.
The Police Talk
Police brutality has been a hot button issue in the black community since slavery was abolished in the 1800’s. A conversation about how you should interact with the police is imperative. Our young men must understand that life is bigger than one altercation with a police officer. Be polite, take the tickets and never go in your pockets. It must be up to our parents to make sure our young men know that police altercations could be life or death. Let them understand that you have to pick your battles, and battles with the police rarely turn in our favor.
The Dress Code Talk
The way we dress is certainly freedom of expression; however, sometimes it makes us a target. Our young boys should know at a young age how important perception is and that the way you dress is a reflection of the type of person you are. By no means should we force our children to wear certain clothes, but they must understand that certain types of clothes could cause them trouble in the society in which we live. Trayvon Martin’s life was taken, and all they talked about was the “Thuggish Hoodie.” Understand your dress is more important than you might assume.