Former New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani faced backlash last Sunday when he said black parents need to “ teach their children to be respectful to police” on “Face The Nation,” implying that it’s a black victim’s own fault if he is killed by police. If only he had “respected” the cop, the logic goes.
It’s certainly true ― and essential for survival ― that black parents must have “the talk” with their children about what to do and say when they encounter law enforcement. But time and time again, we’ve seen that “respecting” cops often isn’t enough to save a black person’s life. That’s what makes “the talk” so paralyzing for parents of color.
Black mothers in Baton Rouge told The Huffington Post how they’ve raised their children to always maintain the utmost respect when talking to cops.
“No matter what you do or what you say, you’ll probably never be right so what you can do is listen and, like I say at home, follow directions,” Ealania Jones said.
Police brutality may be in the headlines today, but these mothers know it’s an unfortunate phenomenon that has plagued black Americans for longer than history books record. That’s why they prepare their children as best as they can.
“There’s steps that I made them go through,” Brenda Menard told HuffPost. “Remain calm, a police officer’s coming to you, do what he asks you to do. No, I didn’t put his registration in his glove compartment, because right there, if you reach into the glove compartment, that’s something that a police officer will say you have a weapon.”
Black parents across the nation have been having this conversation with their children for decades. So it’s clear that, “respect” isn’t the answer to saving black lives. Criminal justice reform is.
Watch the full video of what these mothers tell their children about interacting with police in the video above.