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'The Talk': Black parents speak on teaching kids to survive police interactions in wake of Nichols' death

“The Talk” has been passed down in many Black families for generations to prepare their children for interactions with police.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Just about every teenager gets safe-driving tips from their parents when it’s time for them to start driving. But for Black teens, there’s another layer of that conversation to be had. 

"The Talk" offers advice for safely navigating potential encounters with the police. 

For generations, the barbershop has served as a meeting place, social club and a safe place for Black men and boys. It's a place to get a fresh cut but also talk about what’s happening in the world.

Lately, some of the conversation here at JAWS Barbershop in West Hartford has been about the brutal beating death of Tyre Nichols by five Black officers in Memphis. 

“It’s been a big discussion, especially amongst the men because you almost feel targeted,” said JAWS Barbershop owner, Anthony Williams. 

But for many men who walk out these doors, the conversation continues at home with their children. 

“Before it was just, drive safe, don’t hit anybody don’t get hit. Now, it’s like make sure you don’t get killed by a cop,” said Williams. "The talks are in preparations, but it’s scary because you have to have them nowadays."

Different versions of “The Talk” have been passed down in many Black families for generations to prepare their children for interactions with police.

“That’s an all the time talk. You have to have that talk frequently. It’s not just a one-time talk,” said Barray Monteriro. 

Each discussion with a specific set of warnings 

“We call it, in my household, pullover etiquette. Have their license, registration, and insurance in one location. Ask to reach for it. Keep your hands visible. Be respectful, yes sir, no ma’am,” said Williams. 

Criminal Justice and Community Policing Stewart Professor, Doctor Lorenzo Boyd said these talks can date back to pre-civil rights. 

“Remember, American history is oral history. We tend to have this conversation because people of color tend to have negative relationships with police in situations like that,” said Dr. Lorenzo Boyd 

He said “The Talk” can bring up unfortunate realities that Black and brown people have to face and the face of all of this, it’s about one thing: accountability. 

“It’s about levels of accountability and once we hold everyone accountable. If we have bad doctors, bad reporters, bad teachers, we hold them accountable. Why then should we not hold bad cops accountable and once we start to hold more police officers accountable, we’re going to start to see that it’s going to come out more because it’s happening a lot more than we know about and two once we hold more officers accountable hopefully at some point, it’ll start to even out a little bit,” said Dr. Boyd. 

DeAndria Turner is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. She can be reached at dturner@fox61.com. 


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