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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Things I Tell My Black Son - Pt. 2

What Do We Tell Our Black Sons Now?

Charles M. Blow
On Jan. 24, 2015, another Black young man in America was accosted by a police officer. This time it was the son of New York Times columnist and author of the moving memoir, Fire Shot Up in my Bones, Charles M. Blow.

I first heard of the news on Twitter after Blow sent out tweets expressing his anger and frustration. He then gave a detailed description of what took place in The Opinion Pages of The New York Times. (See: Library Visit, Then Held at Gunpoint - Charles Blow: At Yale, the Police Detained My Son)

When Blow explained in his article how he was relieved that he taught his son “how to conduct himself if a situation like this ever occurred,” I started to feel guilty because I don’t know if I taught my son everything on how to conduct himself if he was staring down the barrel of a police officer’s gun.

This made me reflect on a podcast I produced several months back, where I shared ‘Things I Tell My Black Son.’ The one thing I didn't breakdown in detail is how he should conduct himself with police officers.

My brain then started to reflect when radio host and comedian, Steve Harvey, had a conversation on his morning show about teaching his sons what to do if they were to get pulled over by a police officer. It sounded as if Harvey had a workshop all set up just for his children. It was like a drill.

Harvey told his boys to stay calm, always answer politely, keep both hands on the wheel, and no sudden or threatening movements. He also advised that when police officers asks for identification and registration, that they tell the officer that they are about reach in their back pocket and/or the glove compartment box for their ID’s so that everyone is on the same page.

Harvey’s advice is not so farfetched and these are tips that everyone should remember, regardless of race. Unfortunately, the racial tension that is brewing in America makes every routine stop about race.

I still shake my head in worry. I am not sure if these tips are enough to keep our children out of the way of a racist police officer or one with a trigger-finger who just graduated from the academy.

There is only so much a parent can do to prepare their children for the world. Blow and Harvey seems to have done all that they could. But could we do more? I’m not just asking parents, I am also asking those who are not parents. What are you doing to educate young minorities on how to present themselves in a positive light in the community you live in?

The community that I reside in really doesn’t have a problem with police harassment and I have yet to get that phone call from the police department for my son. However, given the social injustice of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner, my son continues to walk on eggshells. And I am positive he is not the only one who feels this way.

After the ordeal with Charles Blow’s son being stopped at Yale University, what do we tell our Black sons now? 

  • It’s clear that it doesn't matter if you’re heading back to your dorm room at an Ivy League university or simply walking down the street minding your own business.
  • It doesn’t matter how famous and accomplished your parents are, Black young men are still going to get stopped by the police for doing absolutely nothing.
  • And it doesn’t matter how articulate and educated they are, Black young men are still going to be judged by the color of their skin. 

So again, I ask, what do we tell our Black sons now?

Share your advice in the comment box below or e-mail me your views to

— @TCsViews

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