News & Politics

The Talk – Part I

meandTJpride

I am not a big talker. I say what I need to say and then I’m finished. I’ve never been one for sharing feelings or wanting to delve deep into any conversation, unless it revolved around basketball or the latest Dan Brown book. Inherently, my 14 year old son is the same. He’s not big on conversation unless it has something to do with anime or…..anime.

But recently, I made the decision to sit him down and have “The Talk” with him. I, along with my mother, sat him down and looked at him and I could tell he was nervous about something. Let’s not lie, anytime a woman says “We need to talk,” anyone will cringe, especially a 14 year old. “Ramon,” I said to him while holding back tears “Do you know what to do in the event that you are ever approached by a cop?” He looked slightly confused and I explained to him what had happened in Ferguson, Missouri. How Michael Brown, an unarmed black man was shot by the police over what seems to be stolen cigars. How that man laid on the ground for more than four hours as police did nothing. He looked at me with his innocence and just said to me, ”Man…that’s messed up.”  I then told him the following:

“In the event you are ever approached by the police, and you will be approached by the police, you should always say ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am.’”

“Never show your anger. Showing anger will only fuel their adrenaline and adrenaline can be a dangerous thing.”

“Never put your hands in your pocket, never cross your arms, never reach for anything. Stand stationary with your hands in the air.”

  “You will be angry.  You will be frustrated.  You will feel a sting of disrespect. When that happens, do not project it.”

He looked at me and shook his head and said “Okay, mom. I understand.”

That night, I watched CNN and saw the militarized police throwing tear gas at protestors and arresting them and was reminded of the documentaries I’ve watched over the years, those of the 60s, the Civil Rights Movement. I thought of the images of men and women getting called “nigger” and “coon” and being spit on because they silently protested by sitting in diners that were reserved for “whites only,” police officers beating and attacking civilian protestors with dogs and water cannons, and black men walking down streets chanting “I AM A MAN.”

Racism is thriving. You can deny it. You can say that because we have a black President, racism is dead and buried. But the truth is, it will not die. It will grow and it will continue to kill innocent men, women and even children. Only when we can openly and honestly say to ourselves, “Yes, racism is real and tangible,” will we be able to truly have an open dialogue about it and possibly find ways to end it.

The state of the world saddens me. It makes me weary and makes me want to cry. I fear for my son – my 14 year old, almost 6 feet, gentle giant who would rather set a bug free than kill it, who opens doors for everyone, who would give you his last $5 if it meant you could eat, who raised butterflies and reads Edgar Allen Poe and William Shakespeare. I fear that as a black man, he will be denied the most basic of freedoms, that no matter how hard I prepare and protect him, I can’t do it his entire life. I try to keep him away from the negative, but I know that one day, he will be pulled over, he will be the subject of “stop and frisk,” he will be singled out – just because he is a black man. And that angers and saddens me.

With everything that has gone on in Missouri, I’d like to point out the complete irony that the Dred Scott decision took place in none other than St. Louis Missouri, where a man, born a slave in Virginia, sued for his freedom. In 1857, the Supreme Court ruled that African-Americans “are not citizens of the United States and therefore have no rights to sue in federal court.” The decision later states that black people are “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they have no rights for which the white man is bound to respect.“ Eventually Scott would later receive his freedom, only to die nine months later, but he did die a free man. And he was buried in Calvary Cemetery….less than ten miles from Ferguson, Missouri.

This is the first of two parts – two mothers and two very different conversations with their sons. Read The Talk – Part II.

FEATURE PHOTO CREDIT: CHANEL HOLMES

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5 Comments

  1. Thank you for telling your story and welcome to VillageQ!

  2. It confuses and upsets me every day that we live in a world where people can do so much good and also act so cruelly. Kind of miraculous we’ve made it this far. I do hope our future is brighter, and I do hope sharing our experiences helps in some way. That’s why we’re here at VillageQ, and I’m so very happy you’re here.

  3. Thank you for sharing your words with us, Chanel. It’s a beyond painful conversation that you had to have with your son and I hope that by telling your story, people realize that this is the reality that we live in.

  4. So sad indeed that these conversations are being carried out in homes across this country … the land of the free.

  5. Thank you all for your words!

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