The Talk – The Walk – Every time you leave home words to live by
Last night, I watched the first episode of the Emmett Till Documentary for the second time. It’s the true story as told by people who knew this young man. Emmett Till was born in 1941. At this time in 2022 he would be celebrating 81 years of life. Instead, at the young age of 14 her was lynched in what Martin Luther King stated that it “might be considered one of the most brutal and inhuman crimes of the twentieth century.”
This incident resulted in a short-lived life because of prejudice. I believe that if a white child had whistled, it would have been laughed off as cute. In 2022 it would have been plastered all over social media as funny.
Therein lies one of many differences. The very most a white child would have gotten was a reprimand, or a talking to, but never a lynching. Never have his life taken.
So, let’s do that fast forward to today. I was talking with a black mother of two yesterday. One is an adult son and the other is an eleven-year-old daughter. I was telling her about The Talk project we are working on in the Garden of Neuro. She thought it was a great idea and offered more input. She informed me that this is about more than a talk but a whole life, day-by-day, when your child is reminded about how to hold up their character in society. When her children walk out the door, they have rules to live by. The rules that black children follow are not the same rules that white people tell their children. I know. I am a white parent.
The white parent says, look people in the eye to show confidence. The black parent says, be cautious about looking white people in the eye as they may say you are threatening to them.
The white parent says, offer your hand to shake a man’s hand. The black parent says, don’t be the one to offer a handshake, but shake the hand if it is offered.
The white parent says, stop by the store on the way to school and pick up a treat. The black parent says, stop by the store on the way to school, get your treat quickly and take it to the register. And be sure to keep your hands where they can be seen.
Emmett Till went into a store and whistled. It cost him his life. It was not his fault.
Flash forward to Trayvon Martin, who is 2012 lost his life at the age of 17. He was walking down the street, an innocent young man— shot because he was walking while black.
What is the difference between these two young men? One death was 77 years ago and the other was ten years ago. Another has and will continue to happen until things change.
Did you know that Emmett Till had “The Talk” given to him? Yes, he did. His own cousin spoke about it in the documentary. That’s the point. The talk about how to conduct oneself when walking out the door, and add social media indoors today— It is, as my friend stated yesterday, more than a talk, but a life you have to live and breathe each day.
Some may wonder why this white woman wants to hear about a talk that BIPOC have with their family members and friends. Anyone who truly knows me knows that my life has never been about black and white. It has always been about people. It has always been about my study of people and concern that people learn to get along. It is important – and I will speak from my own sociologist experience – that we understand what is going on in others’ lives, so we can be more compassionate, so we can make this a better place to live, so that we can be a part of the warm, love-filled environment that was meant to be. And if I appear to wear rose-colored glasses, so be it. Give me ones with purple frames.
I want to read these stories that I cannot tell. I want to know what people of color are dealing with day by day. I want to be inclusive in this life. And this is why I want to read these stories.
Do you have a story to tell? Please send it to the Call for Submissions for The Talk. This is open to BIPOC and their families and friends who have experienced the talk, the way of life, the rules for living. We want to hear them.
By the way, my friend also said something that I have been saying for a long time. The young people these days are going to change the world, and it will be a better place where we will get along. Let’s start with the talk and let’s be a part of that change.