The Talk: The Challenges of Black Parenting
Updated: Dec 14, 2022
While the police killings of thousands of Black Americans have finally reached the public eye due to technological advances, "the talk" is more significant than it's ever been in Black culture. This is the talk Black parents give their children, mainly their sons, about how they should deal with the police if they encounter them. It is a tough, heartbreaking talk that may result in fatal consequences if not implemented. Several articles capture the essence of "the talk," but one piece, in particular, caught my eye. Gustavo Solis from the University of Southern California News posed a great question. "How do you prepare kids to be judged by their skin color? Throughout the article, Mr. Soils highlights how "the talk" is about Black parents building awareness and pride and how Black parents traditionally approach the talk. According to Soils (2021), research points to five categories of how parents approach the subject:
• Messages of pride in one's race and culture.
• Teaching about racial inequalities and pointing out imbalances in society.
• Deemphasizing the importance of race and focus on hard work.
• Promoting mistrust of other races or interracial interactions.
• Silence, simply not talking about it.
I personally have three Mitchell boys who will carry on my legacy. Although "the talk" is difficult to have (i.e., children never quite understand why their differences are so harshly judged), I chose to start a tradition with my second-born son by giving him a poem on his 18th birthday that embodies messages of pride in one's race and culture. My goal is to continue to have these difficult dialogues with all my sons, and when my 4-year-old turns 18, I will offer him this same poem of pride and encouragement. This blog is essential because I want you, as the reader, to think about the five categories described above and how you plan to approach the subject. I'm curious how you have or plan to approach "the talk," and I would also like your thoughts on how I deliver "the talk." Below is the poem I gave to my second-born son, hoping my fatherly message would influence his decisions.
Letter to My Black Sun
Contrary to popular belief
Life is not a box of chocolates
As a matter of fact, for a Black man
Life is riddled with pitfalls as deep as empty pockets
As morbid as that sounds
I'd be remiss if I did not warn you about the complexity of your complexion
So as your father, I offer you words of experience
As your cover and protection
Fear not we come from solid stock
forged from suffrage out the Carolina backwoods
You are a warrior, a survivor
This is your introduction to manhood
So educate your mind, strengthen your body
And enlighten your soul
For God has been and always will be
The path to silver and gold
Trust your heart
But follow your first mind
You may want to learn braille
Because I assure you love is blind
Embrace your vision
And pursue it relentlessly
Work isn't hard
When it's done instinctively
But keep your head on a swivel
These laws aren't meant to protect you
They're built to suck you in like Bissell
Black boy Black man
That's all the world will ever see
But through my future-oriented lenses
I see a bold beautiful brilliant King and protector; more importantly, my Legacy
Love Always,Your father, Dr. Roy L. Mitchell
Soils, G. (2021, March 10). For Black parents, “the talk” binds generations and reflect changes in America. USC News.Retrieved from https://news.usc.edu/183102/the-talk-usc-black-parents-children-racism-america/