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The Two-Way
7:15 am
Thu March 22, 2012

After Trayvon Martin's Death, We're All Having 'The Talk'

  • From 'Morning Edition,' on 'The Talk'

A national discussion about race continues in the wake of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's death last month in Sanford, Fla.

To recap: Martin, who was unarmed, was shot by a a 28-year-old man, George Zimmerman, who claimed self defense. Martin's family and supporters — and now a growing number of people across the nation — say it was a case of racial profiling and that Zimmerman only assumed Martin was "suspicious" and followed him through the neighborhood because the teenager was black.

On Wednesday, our colleague Corey Dade wrote about something that many African-American families have long dealt with — "The Talk:"

"I am a black man. This is one of the realities I have lived. My parents prepared me for it. To be sure, my parents taught me to transcend matters of race, interrogate them when necessary, and even ignore them where possible. However, they also gave me 'The Talk.'

"For other boys coming of age, parents may end 'The Talk' after a lecture about sex, drugs, alcohol or Internet porn. The rite for black boys often is more rigorous: We're also drilled on a set of rules designed to protect us against suspicions too often associated with the color of our skin."

Today on Morning Edition, writer Donna Britt and her sons, Justin and Darrell Britt-Gibson, added to our understanding of "The Talk" during a conversation with host Steve Inskeep.

"It's a preparatory explanation and a warning to let them know what's out there for them," Britt said of the discussion many black parents have with their children, especially sons. For her, "The Talk" was especially meaningful because as a young man her brother Darrell was shot and killed by a white police officer in Gary, Ind., "under circumstances that were inexplicable and that to this day don't make sense to me."

That loss, she told Steve, "taught me in a very deep and profound way the dangers that could take my sons from me."

Those sons told Steve of what it's like to be young black men and feel the need to deal with police officers and others in authority in a much different way than white friends might. "They don't know the reality that we lived," Darrell said, of how his white friends feel they can speak up and challenge authority in a way he can't.

There is only one "light at the end of the tunnel" after Trayvon Martin's death, Justin Britt-Gibson said, and that is the national conversation it has generated.

"I go on Facebook," he said, and "everyone, white, black, Asian, Latino; is talking about this. And everyone is equally as mystified. ... And outraged.

"We're all having 'The Talk.' "

Related News: "Sanford Commission Votes 'No Confidence' In Police Chief." (Orlando Sentinel)

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