Sunday, August 24, 2014

Within black families, hard truths told to sons amid Ferguson unrest By Michael Martinez, Stephanie Elam and Erica Henry,

CNN) -- From parent to son, uncle to nephew, grandparent to grandson, there's a raw, private conversation being re-energized in America in the wake of violence in Ferguson, Missouri.
It's an intimate lecture that most Americans won't know, but parents like Kelli Knox of Southern California know it too well because it begins the loss of their children's innocence and exposes them to a painful national truth that's increasingly become a matter of life or death.
As challenging as parenting is, black families in particular are assuming more burdens: At kitchen tables and in living rooms, they hold honest talks with their boys about how life can be different for them and what they ought -- and ought not -- to do in public, especially near police.
Think twice about wearing a hoodie. Pull up your pants. Shut your mouth around police. Swallow your pride. Don't drive with more than three friends. And keep your hands where they can be seen.
These are just a few examples of the rules that parents tell their young black sons -- and sometimes daughters -- about how to stay safe. Though stark and blunt, the admonishments follow a trend of violence that touches upon the most fiery issue in America: race.
The 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the 2013 police shooting of a North Carolina man who was apparently seeking only help and this week's riots against Ferguson police -- these sensational cases all involve shooting victims who were unarmed, young black men.
"I've had this conversation with my son since middle school on how to behave," said Knox, 46, of Inglewood, California. "When the police come, this is what you do. This is how you speak to them. Do not get into a power struggle. Listen to them. If they are trying to give you a ticket, get the ticket. Because it's not worth it. It's just not worth it."
A 'sad' day and time
Whether at reunions, picnics, or the mall, families and friends make it a point to apprise sons, nephews or grandsons of what Knox calls "the rules of engagement" for young black men when they encounter police or other figures of authorities.
Robert Spicer tells his eldest child, Crishawn, 15, to be aware of even how he dresses.
"I stress to him his appearance is important, the way he conducts himself, the way he talks to people," said Spicer, 44, a tow truck driver who lives Los Angeles.
His wife, Lashon, 42, said the California couple worry about their four children every day.
"You don't know what's going to happen between dropping them off and them coming home," she said.
To read more, click on the following link:

No comments: