“The Talk” with my Black Son Through the Years

By now, I will assume every Grey’s Anatomy fan has viewed the scene where Miranda and Ben has the “TALK” with her son. The ‘talk” about how to react if stopped by law enforcement. This episode aired during Black History Month, a month to celebrate Black Excellence and heroes and role models. As a parent and teacher, I expected to be discussing Black Greatness but instead I have been derailed in the opposite direction to discuss mention “growing up as a black male” to my black sons. I am their MOTHER. The meaning of a mother is never ending. She is a caregiver, a teacher, a disciplinarian, but most of all she is a PROTECTOR. She will sacrifice her entire being to ensure her children’s safety. 

I understand my sons will have a very different life experience from their friends of other races no matter their socioeconomic statues. They can attend the best school in the best neighborhood and know the “right people,” they will always be viewed as a Black Male. The unconscious bias of a person can outright harm them … and as their mother, I have to have certain things in order for unpredictable situations.

Waking up daily as they view the reflection of black skin will be a constant reminder of how an unfair society sees them. I have rehearsed the “talk” over and over while dreading the day it comes. Will I say the right things, will it bring them comfort, will it bring understanding? Will it help protect them? Will it foster further discussions? Will I have the answers? Although I want to be naive and think this could never happen to my sons, it is the reality of the blindness of the country. For me, the talk comes at every stage of life and will never fade. 

The “Talk” Never Goes Away

Toddler Years

My thoughts: I am a mother to a beautiful child. He is so sweet and innocent, who wouldn’t love him. How will I protect him from this unfair society?

The reality: He is still BLACK.

The Talk: “Hey son, you’re only a toddler but momma has to talk to you. You were born into an unfair world that will distribute an unfair opportunities to you but you will overcome them. You will have struggles.” 

To my toddler son: “You are enough, you are beautiful, you were handsome and smart, you are brave, you matter, your life matters.”

Tween Years

My thoughts: My child isn’t that cute little toddler anymore and the conversation is going to get tougher. These adolescent years will be trying because this is the time where he will think he knows it all. Will my kid just be naive and misunderstand the practical lessons about race?

The reality: He is still BLACK. At this age, he most likely will be involved with extracurricular activities and being viewed for his physical abilities versus intellect.

The Talk: “My son, you are almost a teenager and you are developing into a fine young man. We live in a beautiful country that unfortunately will unconsciously view you as different because you are. You are a black male and with that comes some things you will have to be prepped and prepared for. You may be the only black person in your class or in your extracurricular activities but that’s okay, just be aware. If you feel uncomfortable in any situation, ask questions and inform your parents. More importantly, let me tell you the story of Emmett Till.” 

To my tween son: “You are enough, you are beautiful, you were handsome and smart, you are brave, you matter, your life matters.”

Teen Years

My thoughts: This is the time I would like to discuss the birds and the bees but that can wait, let me tell you how to stay alive. I am not bitter or upset at others but rather concerned with the thoughts of others when it comes to stereotyping my son. 

The reality: He is still BLACK.

The Talk: You may hear “unkind words” and words that have a deep rooted negative connotation but that word does not define you. That word is not a term of endearment but rather a derogatory word that your ancestors suffered from. You will hear it on the streets, in songs, in school, everywhere. More importantly, I want to tell you the stories of George Stinney and Trayvon Martin

To my teen son: “You are enough, you are beautiful, you were handsome and smart, you are brave, you matter, your life matters.”

Adulthood

My thoughts: My son is now an adult and it is with my hopes and dreams that he will understand that our “talks” that sparked from my level of fear of him not returning home.

The reality: He is still BLACK.

The Talk: Son, remember those special set of rules we have discussed throughout your life? You have made it this far and we can’t afford for you to be naive. I have taught you how to stay alive without changing your identity. Now it is time for you to pay it forward and show other black boys the way and give them “The Talk.” More importantly, it’s your turn to tell me the story of a black man who was harmed by someone with an unconscious bias.

To my adult son: “You are enough, you are beautiful, you were handsome and smart, you are brave, you matter, your life matters.”

A black mother’s pain: I can’t take their skin off of them, but I can give them the words of encouragement and feeling of hope that our country and people’s views can be redesigned. 

I am still afraid. I will always worry, but I’m hopeful.

Should parents of black sons postpone “the talk?” At what age is too early for “the talk?” 

Nette Archangel
Originally from the village of Loreauville, Nette along with her wife, Jasmine and their two sons, Thomas and Lane moved to their favorite city after residing in Ruston, LA. . She is an education administrator who loves living in NOLA. When not running after the brodudes, you can find her organizing, planning, and jamming to Carrie Underwood. Already busy with supporting education and family, she finds time to be involved with the LGBT Community by serving as an administrator for NOLA GAY FAMILIES. Her goal in life is to acquire Carrie Underwood legs and to eat an entire salad one day (she's super picky eater)! Follow her on IG: @livinglifewithnette@gmail.com

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