For generations, black parents have sat down with their children to have "the talk."
My mother had "the talk" with me when I was 7. One of my teachers intentionally lowered the grades on my report card to "keep me humble." I cried. My parents fumed. That's when I knew there was something different about being black.
My experience is not unique. One study revealed non-white parents are three times more likely to talk about race than white parents. Acknowledging race and racism is an early and frequent occurrence in black households.
It's never easy. How do you tell your son the mere sight of him may strike fear in adults? How do you teach your daughter to rely on trusted authority figures when some of them have no intention of protecting her? How do you tell your children that some people think their lives are dispensable?
Having to have the talk so early and so often is heartbreaking. It's exhausting. Yet to keep black kids safe — and alive — it's absolutely necessary.
Photo via iStock.
While these difficult conversations happen at kitchen tables and car rides across America, we don't talk about "the talk" enough.
A new ad from Procter & Gamble and their "My Black Is Beautiful" project explores generations of black families having these difficult conversations with their children. The 60-second piece is the focal point of a larger effort exploring the effects of bias.
"We know that bias is not just an African American issue. It’s an issue that takes on many shapes and forms, across gender, race, age, weight, sexual orientation, and more," says Damon D. Jones, director of global company communications for Procter & Gamble. "Our goal with 'The Talk' is to help raise awareness about the impact of bias, we are also hopeful that we can make progress toward a less biased future by recognizing the power of people of all backgrounds and races showing up for one another."
While bias affects everyone, this video will be all too familiar for many black families. Conversations like this have to happen every. single. day.
All GIFs via My Black Is Beautiful/YouTube.
And while every parent worries, black parents have to wonder if their local police will serve and protect their children too.
That's why people of all ethnicities and backgrounds should talk about the impact of unconscious bias, racism, and colonialism with their kids.
Not talking about racism, fear, and discrimination is a privilege many white families enjoy. Their children can live unaware of the not-so-great history of our country and the lasting impact of and slavery, reconstruction, and mass incarceration.
This lack of awareness and vital knowledge is detrimental and ultimately reveals itself in hurtful ways. Blackface for Halloween? Chanting "food stamps" at a high school basketball game? Appropriating other cultures for clicks and entertainment? We can prevent these painful incidents, but only if we start getting real about race.
So, parents, if you haven't already, it's time to have these conversations.
Kids as young as 5 are naturally curious, can understand issues like fairness, and are beginning to understand basic social issues. Talk to them about how this country was built and by whom. Ditch the "colorblind" narrative and talk about why representation and inclusion are so important. Let your kids know that black children, Latino children, indigenous children, and multi-racial children are just as intelligent, beautiful, and worthy of love as they are. Once you have these early conversations, keep bringing it up and talking about it. No conversation about race should be off-limits.
Photo by iStock.
Talking about race, discrimination, and bigotry is the best way to start dismantling the system that allows it to exist.
Watch this moving piece from Procter & Gamble and My Black Is Beautiful, and explore the other videos and perspectives on their campaign page.
Note: We were not paid by Procter & Gamble to promote this. (We would tell you!) We just think it's just awesome to see some real talk in ads.