COMMENTARY: We Must Include Girls In Conversations About Race

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“The sad thing is I have talked to my oldest daughter about this as well,” my friend, a respected journalist, told me. “I’ve told her if she is riding around with a group of her black male school friends she should be aware of the likelihood they will be stopped by authorities and perceived as trouble makers by others and there is little margin for error.”

“Frankly there is no margin for error,” he said. “Our kids don’t get to make the same mistakes that other kids do. Our kids don’t get to react to confrontations the same way others do.”

A devoted dad, my friend makes a lot of sense.

I talk to my teenage daughter, too, about race, injustice and acting responsibly. It’s now evolved into a daily conversation where I borrow a phrase from a dear friend, a mother: “Show good judgment.” Those are three simple, yet powerful words to live by as we send our children into the world.

I wrote this week about a friend from Chicago, a black female physician, who had a sobering conversation with her three school-age sons days before a Florida jury failed to convict Michael Dunn of the premeditated murder of Jordan Davis.

“I presented the concept of “Strange Fruit” to them through poetry, music and the frightening visual …but with Trayvon Martin as an example,” she told me. As a mother, she is understandably concerned about how white men view young black men.

She offered her sons a powerful historical testimony to connect the past to the present. The crisis of perception of young black males in America today is one that could be described as modern-day version of the lynchings of that plagued them into this century.

“Strange Fruit” was recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939. The song exposed American racism through the ongoing lynching of black men in the South. A chilling photo of two black men who were lynched as white men celebrated in 1930 inspired teacher Abel Meeropol, who wrote the song. In the video, eerie black-and-white photos of Ku Klux Klansmen in hoods, burning crosses and watching half-nude black men hanging from trees, accompany Holiday’s voice.

It’s critical that we talk to our black boys about the consequences of racism in our society. But as I was reminded firmly this week, we must include our daughters in this discussion, too.

What do you think?

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7 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: We Must Include Girls In Conversations About Race

  1. YES ! We should be Teaching and Talking with our children, male and female. If we don’t discuss the past abuse and terrorism heaped on us as a people in USA , and discuss the continuing injustices………OUR FUTURE IS ENDANGERED !

  2. I’ll tell you one more thing that will assure nothing getting resolved. and thatr is trying to turn this most serious issue into a half ass gender debate.

  3. Failure to include girls in conversations about indicates an oversight. Given the two tragedies involving girls in this story, oversights should now be a thing of the past. Until girls are also at the table, your conversations will continue to go around in circles. Nothing will get resolved.

  4. I just read an article that showed the number of black women that were also hanged during the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. Shocking!

  5. True Dat, Aaron!!! Contrary to popular belief there was no magic bridge of equality we crossed over in the 80′s or 90′s or whenever we think that was. “Stand your Ground, er, excuse me, ah, i mean the “excuse to kill black boys” law has amplified the hostility. Some would like to say, lets just focus on being the best we can be, life is good, Im concentrating on getting the best out of life for myself, etc, etc. Yes, we are all doing that. that doesn not mean I shouldnt be aware of the truth and reality of my situation.

  6. I don’t understand why every generation of Black people act like racist killings and violent actions towards us is new. This country was built off of the abuse of Black men and women nothing has changed about the way they view us only the way we view each other. At one point we all knew we lived in a hostile environment now for some reason some of us try to pretend that we don’t. We need to turn the TV off and have some serious discussions in our homes.

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