You know the talk. The one parents have with their kids about the time of pre-adolescence. The one about sex. But there is another talk that parents of African American kids have that has little to do with responsibility and pleasure. This talk has to do with self-protection and how to deal with those who have sworn to defend and protect us.
Parents of African American kids, particularly parents of boys, need to teach their children how to respond when approached, either rightly or wrongly, by a police officer. Police officers are sworn to their duties, regardless of color, creed or national origin. They are sworn to treat each of us with justice and fairness and to serve the public good. Most do, but some do not. Hence families of dark skinned children have “the talk”. Parents try to teach their kids to be safe when confronted by those whose sworn duty it is to keep THEM safe.
But what about the rest of America’s families? What kind of talk should they be having with their kids? Are they off the hook because their children are not at risk from police officers? Each of us has a duty to do something about the racism in our country. That is not only the job of police, teachers, or clergy. Each of us has a duty to perform. It is not enough just to do no harm. We need to actively teach our children that those who stand by and see or hear injustice and do nothing are helping to foster and create more injustice.
We need to actively teach all children, but particularly majority kids, to be empathic to the lives of others. We need to actively call our children’s attention to instances when others are not be treated appropriately. And what did you do when another child was being bullied? What did you do when another student was mocked? What did you do when a joke was made at the expense of someone else? What did you do when a racist statement was made? Did you do anything or was your contribution just to not add to the injustice? Dante has said that the hottest circle of hell is reserved for those who are neutral.
To stand and do nothing is not enough. Evil needs nothing more than for good people to do nothing. Evil is like the weeds in our spring lawn. It will spread until we actively apply the weed killer.
Every family in our country has a role to play. Every family in our country needs to have the “talk” with the kids. Families of African American children may talk about self-protection. Families of ALL children need to talk about actively feeling harmed when injustice is laid on others. We must be one nation united for everyone. We all need to have The Talk! And ACT