Special Report: ‘The Talk’ showcases how parents talk to their children about social injustices

Special Report: ‘The Talk’ showcases how parents talk to their children about social injustices
Updated: Jun. 18, 2020 at 8:35 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The death of George Floyd at the hands of police has led to protests for racial justice around the world.

The video of Floyd dying on a Minneapolis street, seen by millions, is also putting parents to the test.

Jessica Anders-Watson spoke with her daughter after she saw the video on the social media platform Tik-Tok.

Therapist Marcie Stubbs from the Lampion Center in Evansville says there are things to keep in mind when parents discuss these kinds of videos with their children.

“It’s a form of trauma, it’s a generational trauma,” Stubbs said. “It’s like you get that fear of ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve heard this story, what’s going to happen to me.' It causes that anxiety, and sometimes it’s secondary trauma because that’s passed down generation to generation.”

Floyd's death has sparked protests across the country.

10-year-old Dezairion Lewis and his father Dealo Tyus watched the video together.

“I feel sad because, like, George Floyd didn’t want that to happen and he did nothing wrong,” Lewis said.

Watson says she and her children hope that as the number of peaceful protests grow, change will be on the horizon.

“I was happy with it because there were so many different kinds of people out there who were on our side for what we stand and it was just - it was amazing,” 8-year-old Kyleigh Hobbs said.

For many families of color, the conversation about racism leads to conversations about police brutality.

“The Talk” is a conversation that black families have been having for years. It’s a way that parents can walk their child through what to do and not to do when interacting with the police.

The goal is to give their kids all the tools they need in order to return home safely.

“When you get pulled over, just raise your hands and do whatever they tell you to do,” Lewis said.

It’s a conversation that has been happening for generations.

“Coming up with the police, I was always taught just ‘no sir, yes ma’am,‘” Jerry Hazelwood Jr. said.

As time passes and videos of police involved deaths surface, the conversation for children of color has become more intentional.

“There’s just a lot of negativity in the world, you can’t teach your kids to be oblivious to it,” Watson said.

Here are a few things the parents told their children to keep in mind when they get pulled over by the police:

  • Step One - Call somebody first.
  • Step Two - Go to a well-lighted area.
  • Step Three - Automatically turn the car off.
  • Step Four - If you have anything in your hands, just drop them and put your hands up.

“Raise my hands and do whatever they tell me to do,” Lewis said.

However, “The Talk” doesn’t stop there as parents say their children want to know why.

“Because they think our skin tone is a weapon,” Hobbs said “And they think we’re used as weapons, so they’re scared.”

Parents tell 14 News it’s hard to explain that this is all because of skin color.

“I try to be as honest with them as I can, with still keeping them innocent,” Watson said.

As their kids continue to grow, the conversation will get more detailed. But where do parents start?

Stubbs says to begin with what’s happening right now.

“What questions are your kids asking? What are they most concerned about?” Stubbs said.

From that point, make it a family activity, learn more about your rights and go through scenarios.

“Let them know that yeah things are different,” Stubbs said. “It’s nothing that you’ve done, it’s nothing that anybody’s done, it’s just the way things have always been, so this is how we need to navigate it. This is what we need to do to make sure you’re safe, and make sure everyone else around you is safe as well.”

Stubbs also says reminding your child to not be fearful is key.

“Not all people are bad, not all cops are bad,” Watson said.

“Have fun, but the world can be dangerous,” Hazelwood Jr. said. “It’s sad, you turn the TV on and somebody’s gone.”

As parents, they hope their children’s names are never chanted at a rally, but they say with the future unknown, all they can do is pray.

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