Last night we had the talk. You know, the talk you and your partner have before you give “the talk” to your children. The talk you have to collaborate your thoughts and make sure that you are on the same page on how to deliver your united message. But this talk wasn’t the one that most parents dread. You know the one about the birds and the bees. This is the talk that all black parents dread. The one about how to conduct yourself as a black person, in particular a black man, in America.
I know, I know. It sounds absurd. He’s only 3.5 years old. But if we were to have “the talk” with him when he is 8 or 9, it would already be too late. We won’t lay it on thick. We will start with simple concepts. Even at 3.5 he knows he’s black. We had that talk at 2.5. He approached us, “Mommy, I am brown. And you are brown and daddy is brown and the friends at school are white.”
The problem my husband and I are having is how to explain what’s happening this week. Before we can explain it to our son we first need to digest it ourselves … “what the hell is happening?” Instagram has been a pictorial of the violent acts of this week and the weeks before. Facebook is a massive feed of personal editorials laced with fear, rage and disgust. And yet in the midst of all of this there is a deafening silence that makes me uncomfortable; it pisses me off.
Regardless of the color of your skin, you have to say something. At least acknowledge there is a problem. To sit idle without an opinion or suggestion is to feed the beast that continues to exist. You don’t have to use social media as your platform, but you should open your mouth. We have a collective responsibility to take action. We can start with positive dialogues. The conversations will be difficult, but as you can see, change isn’t easy.
Speak to your family, especially your children. Reach out in your community. Call your representatives. Let’s shift towards a more inclusive society. Stand for a neighbor or friend. Try to reach out and understand. Have the humility to self assess, to see how your actions (regardless of intent or motive) affect others. This has got to stop. Facebook emojis won’t stop the hate. Hashtags won’t fix our justice system. We must come together and take action.
My son started his journey in this world not knowing color or race, but unfortunately, even at the tender age of 3.5, I have to teach him a few unique life lessons. Before he opens his mouth to speak, the color of his skin, without hesitation, introduces him. I can only pray my teachings do him justice.