“I’m unarmed, and I have nothing that will hurt you.” If you’re a white person in America, there’s an extremely strong chance you have never and will never have to utter those words in your entire life. But for many Black families, it’s a mantra that gets taught from a young age—to keep kids safe in interactions with police.
A powerful video posted by Cut features Black parents talking to their children about how to deal with cops—a conversation I’m willing to bet the average white parent of white children has never even given a thought about.
“Why would a police officer assume that you did something bad?” one mother asks a teen girl. An emotional pause follows before her tearful answer, “Maybe because of the color of my skin?”
As protests and riots rage across the country following the death of George Floyd, who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly 10 minutes, it’s time for all Americans to open their eyes to the stresses and dangers that Black families must deal with.
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These conversations are not about bashing police. “There are great police officers out there,” a dad reminds his daughter, “There are also some that are not so good.” Instead, it’s about making sure their children don’t give those not-so-good cops any excuse to harm them.
“Do everything you can to get back to me,” one mom urges her daughter as she explains how to appear non-threatening to a cop. Parents also shared their own histories of interactions with police officers—from being tazed for no apparent reason, to being arrested over a car bumper.
If white privilege affords you the opportunity not to have worry about whether you or your child will survive a traffic stop, try to imagine for a moment how terrified you would feel every single day of your life if you (or your child) could end up being the next George Floyd, or Breonna Taylor, or Michael Brown, or Philando Castile. The list goes on and on back through the decades, and if it’s ever going to change, it’s going to take a commitment from Americans of all races.
If you’re a Black parent in America, this video will already feel all too familiar.
If you’re a white parent in America who isn’t actively speaking out against racism and educating your children about social injustice, let this heartbreaking video be the catalyst you finally need to take action.