The Talk: What Black Parents Tell Their Children

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https://www.speakerswhodare.com/ For some kids, their rite of passage may be attending high-school or getting their first job, but when you are Black, it means something else. In this video, writer LeRon L. Barton discusses “The Talk,” a conversation African-American parents have with their children about what it means to be Black, how growing older may put them at risk, and the realities of racism in our complex world.

LeRon L. Barton is an author, writer, and speaker who talks about race in America. He has written two books and has had numerous essays published about racism, mass incarceration, politics, and dating. LeRon has given talks about race, living with a stutter, overcoming struggles, and the power of telling your story, and provides diversity consulting to companies. LeRon believes that in order to fight racism in America, we have to be honest about it. He insists that we talk about bigotry, learn how it impacts the world we live in, and call it out when we experience it.

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Transcript provided by YouTube:

00:07

there are certain moments in your life

00:09

when you move from childhood to

00:11

adolescence it could be going to high

00:13

school getting your first job or seeing

00:16

your parents split up it could also be

00:19

finding your own music I was raised on

00:23

Parliament Funkadelic and cameo but when

00:26

I first heard Eric being wife Kim was

00:28

paid in full in NWA Straight Outta

00:30

Compton it just hit me it was like a

00:33

rite of passage discovering my own music

00:36

and become my own person but there’s

00:40

also another rite of passage for me and

00:43

those that look like myself it’s having

00:46

the talk for those who aren’t familiar

00:48

the talk is a conversation that black

00:51

parents have with their children about

00:53

the realities of race in America when

00:57

the child is 11 10 or 12 they may not

01:01

understand but when the kid turns 13 and

01:04

becomes physically bigger their world

01:07

changes growing older in this country

01:10

puts you at risk your childhood ends

01:14

your mom and dad may tell you things

01:16

such as you won’t be to get away with

01:18

running around in a store or anywhere in

01:21

public because you will be blamed when

01:24

you walk through a white or rich

01:26

neighborhood expect to be stopped period

01:30

if you’re driving you can’t have three

01:32

friends in the car with you you can’t

01:34

roll for D and if you’re in public with

01:38

your friends and something happens but

01:41

be prepared to be the one that they

01:43

blame for some this is the first time

01:47

that they’ve ever had an explicit

01:49

conversation about race I remember some

01:51

of my friends telling me ma’am my dad

01:54

was talking serious about being black or

01:57

my mom told me about racism and it made

02:00

me think this is an introduction to the

02:03

world we live in growing up my parents

02:07

didn’t talk a lot about race we would

02:10

just talk that black and white people

02:12

are the same and to judge a person by

02:15

their character and not by the color of

02:17

their skin still I

02:20

things such as the black man has a

02:22

hardness country or as a black woman you

02:26

always looked at his being loud when I

02:29

turned 15 and begin to learn how to

02:31

drive my mother became worried I thought

02:34

it’s because I was a horrible driver and

02:36

I kind of still AM but it was something

02:39

I remember one day my mom wanted to talk

02:42

to me about something I could tell this

02:44

was an important conversation by her

02:47

demeanor my mom told me try to be home

02:51

before the street lights come on so you

02:54

can avoid any trouble when you’re

02:57

driving through those small towns be

02:59

careful because sometimes they may have

03:01

their own laws don’t have the music up

03:05

too loud because that could draw

03:07

attention to you

03:08

my mom did told me how to act when I

03:11

pulled over by the police not if but

03:15

when she said your hands need to be

03:18

honest and real at 10:00 and 2:00 when

03:21

the officer approaches your window you

03:23

greet them with a yes sir a ma’am be

03:26

calm polite because you want to put them

03:29

at ease don’t be jumpy or move just be

03:33

calm I remember my mother telling me

03:36

this me thinking damn this is what I got

03:38

to do to stay alive my mom wasn’t a

03:41

judgmental person but she was raising

03:43

her boys to be race conscious so she had

03:46

to be race conscious by giving me the

03:49

talk she was explaining that the

03:52

playbook is different for me her words

03:55

were heavy way down by the exorbitant

03:58

rates for mass incarceration for black

04:00

men in America for every hundred

04:02

thousand men locked up eight thousand of

04:05

them were black when I got older my

04:10

father taught me to refuse rugged

04:12

individualism or pulling yourself up by

04:14

your bootstraps I realized as a black

04:17

man it is my responsibility to help

04:19

those that come after me I stand on the

04:23

shoulder of giants like Malcolm X and I

04:25

to be Wells so it’s a must

04:29

around 2014 I became a mentor to a young

04:34

we’ll call Brandon he was smart

04:36

inquisitive handsome and Allah goofy

04:40

kind of miles me up stuff someone I know

04:43

being a big brother was something I

04:45

always wanted to do to help black kids

04:48

in any way I could one day Brandon and I

04:51

were walking and the subject of Trayvon

04:54

Martin comes up the young black kid

04:56

killed in Florida

04:57

Brandon was asking me things about

04:59

Trayvon Martin and I can tell by the

05:02

look on his face it was am i next

05:08

we then had a really honest and deep

05:11

conversation about race and being black

05:13

in America as Brandon was telling me

05:17

about his experiences it’s like I was

05:19

taken back to the conversation with my

05:21

mother when we had the talk I just told

05:26

Brandon look man we black there’s just

05:28

certain we’re gonna have to do our

05:30

lives are different than white folks

05:32

Brandon and village ejecta said that’s

05:35

not fair I told them life ain’t fair

05:39

this is the cost of blackness everything

05:42

I’m telling you has been told to me and

05:44

has been told to my parents it’s what it

05:47

is what my responsibility is is to

05:51

prepare you for what’s really going on

05:52

out there I’m not saying it’s gonna save

05:55

you but hopefully it’ll help you

05:58

I wish Brandon’s right a passage was

06:02

finding a song that hit him in the heart

06:04

the way it did mine when I was his age

06:06

but it wasn’t it was me giving him the

06:10

talk we didn’t walked around some more

06:13

and had a donut because what kid doesn’t

06:16

like sugar right but seriously after I

06:19

dropped Brandon off at his place I stood

06:22

outside of his building just off for a

06:24

sadness ran to online like

06:28

another generation got to go through

06:30

this I’ll never forget how that made me

06:33

feel in a conversation with renowned

06:37

poet Nikki Giovanni writer James Baldwin

06:40

said what we have to do is make it

06:42

possible for others to live that is the

06:45

only reason to be here

06:47

receiving and given the talk is

06:49

mandatory in our communities we have to

06:52

let our kids know what’s really going on

06:54

out there for black kids anywhere from

06:57

the south side of Kansas City to

06:59

Ferguson New York Los Angeles Atlanta

07:03

Chicago the talk must be had whistling

07:10

Vivaldi are telling kids not to wear

07:13

hoodies will not save them black boys

07:16

are disproportionately arrested at

07:18

higher rates than anyone the National

07:22

Women’s Law Center reports that black

07:24

girls are suspended from school five and

07:27

a half more times than the white

07:29

classmates the talk is not about scaring

07:32

them but preparing them in a

07:35

conversation I had with someone about

07:37

this subject one day she asked me and

07:40

giving he as a talk do we shorten their

07:43

childhood to prolong their life

07:45

I said yeah the names of autumn Sterling

07:49

Tamir rice Sandra bland and Akai Gurley

07:52

still reigned through our mind proving

07:55

that unfortunately I will pass along to

07:58

talk until we no longer need it

08:01

my name is Lauryn Barton and I’m a

08:04

speaker who dares

This post was previously published on YouTube and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Photo credit: Screenshot from video