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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

Remain optimistic

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

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