Police in the Community

‘The Talk': A Rite of Passage for Black Families

Three local moms describe the conversations they've had with their kids about how to act around police

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For most white families, “the talk” deals with the birds and the bees, but for black families, it has increasingly centered around a different topic: How to behave if stopped by a police officer.

It’s a conversation that parents of black children say they feel is necessary to protect their kids, and it typically happens in elementary school.

“We don’t want our kids to be killed, that’s the problem,” said Anna Arancibia.

Arancibia’s children are half-blackbut like many moms, she worries more about her son, and he is only 8 years old.

“We're sitting here having this conversation, and I have to bring this reality to my son, who just wants to ride his bike and enjoy life, you know?" Arancibia said.

When the boys turn into teenagers and their bodies start to fill out, the worrying only intensifies.

"Things I have to tell my kids: If you are pulled over -- turn the car off, keep your hands out of your pockets, ask for permission to get your license." Kenya Taylor said. "Or, a matter of fact, just have it out."

"Your kids see a cop, they probably think, ‘Oh, look a police officer.' I see a cop, my kids see a cop, they're probably like, ‘Oh, what's he doing? Where's he going? Is he looking at me? Where are my hands? What am I wearing?'" said Myesha Williams.

Williams said that she and her kids have never had a racist run-in with a law enforcement officer, which is why she struggled with how to approach the conversations.

“That was one of my biggest battles," Williams said. "I didn't want to instill unnecessary fear, but I wanted to instill necessary caution -- but it's like, How do you do that?”

Williams said that she doesn't want to taint her kids’ view of police since she believes most interactions with law enforcement will be nonconfrontational, but she also doesn't think she should assume that will always be the case.

Many parents of black children say they want their kids to be able to move past the reality of their circumstances and quickly assess how an officer might perceive their actions.

“If we get an Amber Alert, and the car is similar or the same as my kid's, I have to let them know this is going on, be careful" said Taylor.

The women said that while it's important for them to warn their kids about what could happen with law enforcement, it's equally important for black kids to have positive experiences with officers at an early age.

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