What Do I Tell My Son?

While reading my article at BlogHer15, in which I expressed my teary-eyed frustration with the lack of an indictment of the police officers who killed Eric Garner, I asked the question, “What am I supposed to tell my son?”

What do I tell my son about how to conduct himself as a young man to not be harassed by the police?

What do I tell my son about how to not get beaten by the police?

What do I tell my son to make sure he’s not killed by the police for no good reason?

What the f#@k am I supposed to tell my son?


Afterward, so many people, men and women, Black and white, shared their concern about the situation, telling me they don’t know what to tell their sons, either.




What do we do now?

Naturally, my wife and I will do our best to raise an exceptional African-American male, but my sadness and frustration lies in the fact that I don’t think anything I can tell my son will ultimately protect him in this current climate of police violence against Black males in America. For years, so many Black folks have had “the talk” with their sons about how to behave to avoid problems with the police.

Clearly, this is not sufficient.


A recent photo of my twin son, Thaddeus, and me.
A recent photo of my twin son, Thaddeus, and me.


But, after talking with people about my reading, I now believe if we have other people 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 arises that might otherwise result in a bad outcome for a Black male, it can be avoided. And maybe we can even plant positive seeds in the minds of some of the people likely to commit the offenses, and somehow change not only their behavior, but their viewpoint.

Maybe we can make a difference.

I’m not sure what this would look like, but conceptually it makes sense to me.



I’d like to open up the conversation and have everyone 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.

So, I’m starting a new project called #WhatDoITellMySon. Every week, either on SheKnows.com or here on my blog, a new, diverse voice will contribute an article with their take on the answer to the question, “What Do I Tell My Son?”

My hope is 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. And maybe one day we won’t have to be scared for the lives of our Black boys as they mature into adults.

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


How You Can Join 

Take your thoughts about #WhatDoITellMySon to Facebook and Twitter and follow the hashtag to get the latest perspective. If you have a blog, please write about the hashtag and draw people into the conversation.


Thank you, and look for the first article in this new series soon.


[Tweet “#WhatDoITellMySon A conversation about Black males and police violence”]

6 thoughts on “What Do I Tell My Son?

  1. While, I don’t have a son, but two girls, still raising kids in this day and age is so not easy on any level. So, I truly so proud of you for what you started here and cannot wait to see the conversation it spurs. Will definitely be following along on Twitter as I can now 😉

  2. I left a comment but it didn’t save. It probably won’t come across as eloquent now that I have my kids all over me but I’ll try.

    I read a story this morning about 54 people who were shot in the Chicago area. 8 of them were murdered, and a 9th was stabbed to death. As I read the names of the victims I was heartbroken. There were young black mothers, young black men, and people who weren’t even from the area who were killed senselessly. All of this was just over Labor Day weekend. And similar stories happened in places like Miami, and other cities across the country. None of these cases were officer-involved.

    I say this not to detract from the original sentiments… Because police violence is still an issue that needs to be handled. But I can’t help but feel like it’s only one small part of some very big issues effecting, and ultimately ending the lives of our black sons. And I’m so excited to see more of these brought to light with your series. Great job my friend!

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