The Talk: Not Just For Children of Color

“We can say #BlackLivesMatter and #PoliceLivesMatter.” – Rev. Dr. Frank Thomas

Over the years, and especially since the events at Ferguson, parents of children of color have had to have “the talk” with their children. The talk gives ways in which they believe their children have a better chance of emerging safely from an encounter with police.

In a recent piece by PBS, the following are the “rules” in “The Talk.”

10 Rules of Survival if Stopped by the Police

1. Be polite and respectful when stopped by the police. Keep your mouth closed.

2. Remember that your goal is to get home safely. If you feel that your rights have been violated, you and your parents have the right to file a formal complaint with your local police jurisdiction.

3. Don’t, under any circumstance, get into an argument with the police.

4. Always remember that anything you say or do can be used against you in court.

5. Keep your hands in plain sight and make sure the police can see your hands at all times.

6. Avoid physical contact with the police. No sudden movements, and keep hands out of your pockets.

7. Do not run, even if you are afraid of the police.

8. Even if you believe that you are innocent, do not resist arrest.

9. Don’t make any statements about the incident until you are able to meet with a lawyer or public defender.

10. Stay calm and remain in control. Watch your words, body language and emotions.

The reason I am discussing this was a conversation I recently had with some middle class white folks about why I believe black folks have “The Talk” with their children. As a veteran white police officer I told them that my wife, also a police officer, and I had “The Talk” with each one of our children. I’m sure other cops also do this. They, too, know the danger.

Why? Because police encounters with teenagers and young adults can quickly “go south.” We wanted our children to be safe knowing that not every police officer who stops them has their interests in mind.

Every parent needs to have “The Talk” with their children at an early age, not just when they get their driver’s license. We do this because all lives matter and we all love our children.