The past six months of news coverage have been nothing short of a nightmare for parents of black kids.
That's a sentiment underscored by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who in a December interview recounted the advice he shared with with his biracial son, Dante. Shortly after a Staten Island grand jury voted not to indict the officer who killed Eric Garner in a chokehold, he told ABC News, "What parents have done for decades who have children of color, especially young men of color, is train them to be very careful when they have ... an encounter with a police officer."
Black parents and young people alike are doing just that in a new video that offers 10 rules of survival. The two-minute PSA-style video from the SALT Project walks through some basic but potentially life-saving tips for handling any police stop. And each of the rules were given with tender, yet pointed words of advice: "Your goal is to get home safely."
Given the historically frayed relationship between African-Americans and police forces in the United States, largely due to institutional and systemic issues of racism, there's a legacy of distrust and fear. It has not only involved white supremacy, especially in earlier decades, but it has also manifested in communities of color being over-policed and stopped at disproportionate rates across the country.
Coupled with research that shows black young people are often viewed as older and less innocent than whites in the eyes of society, let alone the police, it creates a toxic recipe for black kids to be encountered or harassed by police officers. The recent deaths of unarmed black people killed by police and vigilantes (including the incident involving 12-year-old Tamir Rice) perhaps makes those reservations even more palpable. And those experiences surely inform the 10 tips given in the video:
1. Be polite and respectful when stopped by the police.
2. If you feel your rights have been violated, you and your parents have the right to file a complaint.
3. Do not, under any circumstances, get into an argument with the police.
4. Always remember that anything you say or do can be used against you in court.
5. Keep your hands in plain sight. Make sure the police can see your hands at all times.
6. Avoid physical contact with police officers. Do not make any sudden movements and keep your hands out of your pockets.
7. Do not run, even if you're afraid.
8. Even if you believe you are innocent, do not resist arrest.
9. If you are arrested, do not make any statements about the incident until you are able to meet with a lawyer or public defender.
10. Stay calm and remain in control. Watch your words, body language and emotions.
The clip is sad reminder that many parents of black children still must have these conversations with their children, because they know their kids (no matter how "good" or "perfect" they are) will inevitably be stopped by the police. If the reality weren't as haunting, perhaps they'd be given the same freedom to grow and mature without having to worry about whether police or vigilantes will take their lives before they have a chance to fully blossom.
But, sadly, these rules can be followed to the letter — and there's still no guarantee that a child will return home unscathed.
h/t The Root