Protests calling attention to police brutality against Black Americans and systemic racism have erupted all across the country, with parents shedding light on how these realities impact their lives. For instance, actress Regina King has conversations with her son about police on an ongoing basis.
During a recent interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, King talked about the sort of conversations she has had with her son, 24-year-old Ian Alexander Jr., about dealing with the police as a young Black man, a conversation she says is quite common in Black households across the country. "In most of homes, Black homes, it's not just 'a conversation,' it's an ongoing conversation. It never stops," King said. "You get to a place, especially when your children are at a age where they are looked at as adults, and the anger that they have... you know, it just compounds."
"Every time something like this happens," King said, referring to the police killing of George Floyd. "And another moment that's telling them that they're not worthy, they're not valuable. That their lives aren't valuable once they walk outside the comfort of their homes. The conversation shifts every time."
As a mother, King acknowledged that it was important "to find a way to support their feelings and make sure that you're letting them know that you hear them, and you do mirror the same sentiment, but you don't want them to do anything that's going to put themselves in a situation that they may not come back home."
King said her conversations with her son "really hit home when he learned how to drive." "That's when the conversation shifts again," she said, "because you kind of have to make them very clear about what they're supposed to do when they're out there in that car by themselves. And more than likely are going to get pulled over just because you're a young Black man."
As many have observed, King also told Kimmel that she felt that the three other officers involved in the arrest of Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man who died after a fourth officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, would not have been charged without nationwide protests. J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, according to CNN, while Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd's neck, has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. All officers were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department.
"I feel like the protesting that's happening is necessary," King said, adding that there are other officers who have not been charged, such as the Louisville police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor while executing a search warrant. "There are so many other cases like and I'm just convinced that the only way we're going to change is to get out and vote."
Conversations like the ongoing ones King has with her son might be difficult to comprehend for white parents, but it's becoming increasingly evident that Black parents do not have that luxury. As evidenced by a viral Instagram video created by 18-year-old Cameron Welch about the unspoken rules he needs to follow when going out in public as a young Black man. Things like "don't put your hands in your pockets" and "don't touch anything you're not buying."
The movement happening in America right now is significant and hopefully, in the future, the conversations parents have with their kids like King has with her own son will no longer be the norm in any household.