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Friday, January 27, 2023

Having “The Talk” with our young men

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As a father of one teenager and one preteen, I find myself having conversations with my children that my parents and other elders had with me. I was raised by my late mother who instilled in me good principles, like honesty and respect. One conversation she and I had, that I remember distincitively, was “The Talk.” During this conversation she recalled how her parents talked to her about Emmett Till and his senseless killing as a teenager that outraged the country. She then transitioned to me and referenced the recent Rodney King beating that was captured on video and made world news. That’s right, “The Talk” for most of us in the Black community is not  always about the birds and the bees.  Oftentimes, it’s a conversation with our Black sons and daughters on how they should conduct themselves in the community. While no parent ever looks forward to this discussion, it is a conversation that is more prevalent and reoccuring than ever. Every time we turn on the news or log on to social media we are bombarded with the latest video of a Black or brown body whose life was taken way too early, often at the hands of law enforcement.

So for readers who may not be familiar with “The Talk,” here is how it goes for our sons: “Hi son, how are you doing? Well listen, you are starting to get older and bigger. As a result of this people will look at you differently. What do you mean, dad? Well, to some people regardless of where you are, what you are doing and who your mom and dad are, you will be considered a threat to some. So with this in mind, you should carry yourself differently when you are out and about especially when you are with your peers. Be sure to say yes sir/no sir yes ma’am/no ma’am to adults and especially if they are law enforcement. When you walk in to a business, please remove your hood from your sweatshirt. Be mindful of your friends and try not walk in groups,” and the list goes on and on.

It shouldn’t have to be this way. However, we know that to be Black in America is to be automatically labeled as guility until proven innocent. So how do we fix this? It will require everyone, all hands on deck, not just Black people. We need elected officials, policymakers, not-for-profit leaders, educators, law enforcement officials and all races of people to fix this. That’s why I’m super excited about the Indiana Commission on the Social Status of Black Males (ICSSBM) 20th Annual Statewide Conference (being held virtually).  “The Talk” will take place on three Thursdays in October.  At 2 p.m. Oct. 8, 15 and 29 via the Indianapolis Recorder Facebook page. “The Talk” will focus on three key critical areas our Black males are dealing with: criminal justice (Oct. 8), health (Oct. 15) and education (Oct. 29). ICSSBM has a stellar list of subject matter experts lined up to discuss solutions to some of the tough issues our Black males are facing. We know that when we build up the Black man, we build up the Black family, and in turn create stronger families and stronger communities. We are so excited that we are offering this year’s conference totally free. To sign up or learn more about this conference please contact James Garret Jr. at jgarrett@icrc.in.gov

Kenneth Allen is chairman of Indiana Commission on the Social Status of Black Males. He can be reached at allen4IPS@gmail.com, or via Twitter @kennethbizallen.

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