Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

#WhatDoITellMySon: A new conversation about black males and police violence

How can we keep black males from being harassed, violated and, in some cases, killed by the police for no good reason?

At the #BlogHer15 Voices of the Year awards, I read my piece, After Eric Garner, What Am I Supposed To Tell My Son?, and the response from audience members was tremendous. Men and women, Black, White, Latina and Asian, all told me they were moved to tears by my words, just as I had been while reading them. They shared my frustration about how black males are being treated by police in our country. They don’t know what to tell their sons, either.

Here’s the video of my reading at BlogHer15: 

“The Talk” is not enough

Black folks have been giving their boys “the talk” for years. You know, “the talk,” where black parents tell their boys all the ways they must behave to avoid trouble with the police. The problem is, it doesn’t matter what black parents tell their kids, trouble with police cannot always be avoided.

Don’t believe me? Just ask James Blake.

It used to be that black folks out and about might get in trouble for #DWB, Driving While Black. James was a victim of what I call #WALA, or We All Look Alike, and the apparent new issue for black folks, #SWB, Standing While Black.


I am starting a conversation with a new project called #WhatDoITellMySon, and would like everyone to share their thoughts about what they can tell their sons — and daughters — of all races and ethnicities, to make a difference and help stop the police violence against black American males.

If we have more folks thinking about the little things they can do as non-black people, about what they can tell their own sons — maybe then, when a situation with the police arises that might otherwise result in a bad outcome for a black male, it can be avoided. Maybe we can even plant positive seeds in the minds of some of the people likely to commit the offenses. Maybe we can somehow change not only their behavior, but their viewpoint, too.

Maybe we can make a difference.

We’ll be hosting a new, diverse voice regularly, right here on Each one will share a unique take on the question, “What do I tell my son?”

I hope, through sharing and engagement, we can inspire people of all racial backgrounds to think differently about black males and help us avoid the tragedies we see on the news with increasing regularity. Maybe, just maybe, through this effort, the life of at least one black male can be saved now. Maybe one day we won’t have to be scared for the lives of our black boys as they mature into adults.

Maybe you’ll help me find something specific I can tell my son as he gets older to make him — and me — feel safe.

How you can join the conversation

Please take your thoughts about #WhatDoITellMySon to Facebook and Twitter and follow the hashtag to get the latest perspectives. If you have a blog, please write about the hashtag and draw people into the conversation, or email me at, if you’d like to contribute an article to this new series on SheKnows.

Thank you, and look for the first article soon.

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.