Partially excepted from http://TheAthletic.co
Last Friday, our middle son Taron was excited to get back to campus in Columbus, Ohio, a six-hour drive from our home in Virginia. Before he left, I began my normal routine of getting his car ready by checking every headlight and tail light, and making sure the brake lights were working properly. I located his insurance card and registration, and double checked that he had his drivers license.
My son Taron is 19 years old, a 6-foot-3, 295-pound young black man, with one of the most joyous smiles you’ll ever see. Like many college-age young adults, his car was peppered with gum wrappers, sandwich bags, water bottles, you name it. I removed all of it. An otherwise innocent act, I discarded all of the trash to lessen any chance that if he were stopped by a police officer on his journey, there would be no suspicion about the contents that previously occupied those wrappers.
When I finished cleaning his car, his mother, Tommi, and I gave him “the talk.”
If you get stopped by a police officer: No sudden movements. Check. Turn your music off. Check. Don’t wear a hoodie on the road. Check. Keep your license and registration readily accessible. Check. Tell the officer what you’re doing before you do it. Check. Keep your voice calm. Check. Respond with “Yes, sir or No, sir.” Check. And above all, keep your hands on the steering wheel in plain sight. Check.
“The talk” is something too many black families know and have passed on for generations. I imagine that George Floyd received a version of the talk from his mom, the same mom that he called out for as he was dying.
My wife, Tommi, and I agonized for six hours, from the time Taron left our driveway until he arrived safely in Columbus to reunite with his football teammates at Ohio State University. The anxiety we feel when our children leave home isn’t new, but it has absolutely increased in recent weeks and months.
As our nation processes the death of George Floyd, one thing that I hope we can all agree on: He should still be alive. His story, like so many others —Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Stanley Jones — deserves more honor than to end in a hashtag that is circulated until the next viral, senseless death is upon us.
Enough is enough.
I want a future for black children that doesn’t require “the talk” as a survival tactic. I want a future for black people where we can all feel safe in our bodies, in our communities, and among the people and institutions that are supposed to protect us. I want a future for black children where we can look back at this moment in time and say with conviction that we collectively were fed up and moved at the full strength of our power to change a criminal-legal system that was only serving some of us.
Tommi and I have five children, two daughters and three sons. We try to use the recent events as teachable moments within our family, but our children are angry. They are confused. (My son Taron publicly shared his feelings on Twitter. https://twitter.com/t_lova23/status/1267635446454145025?s=21)