• David W. Janey

    David W. Janey David W. Janey, associate director of financial assistance at Boston University, can be reached at djaney@bu.edu. Profile

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There are 19 comments on POV: What If White Parents Gave Their Kids “The Talk” That Black Parents Give

  1. Black parents give “the Talk” because it is a necessity. White parents simply do not feel that necessity. Hence, the question in the title is purely theoretical. One could ask with the same intention “What if white neighborhoods were patrolled by black policemen?” That may be a good idea, but realistically what is the chance for that to happen in a foreseeable future?

  2. This is a devastatingly honest essay. thank you for voicing my lived experience as a Black daughter, wife, mother, sister, aunt. I have received or given ‘the talk” in each of these roles, identities. It never gets easier.

  3. My white wife gave the talk to our kids. It’s called respect for authority, whether it’s a teacher or a police officer. If you’re black, you have a 1 in a million chance of being unarmed and killed by a police officer. If individuals, regardless of race would respect authority, then those odds would increase tremendously. As a 6’3″ Mexican, I have been held against my will by police officers because of my intimidating size and race. I survived because I didn’t resist arrest, I complied with officers (even to the point of internal anger), and was as polite as I could be in that situation. Respect for authority was taught to me at a young age as well. Yes, there are a few crooked cops, but there are a lot more good cops out there. Also, the Mexican community does not make martyrs out of thugs and criminals. Perhaps our black brothers could learn a thing or two from us. The death of Floyd was terrible and should not have happened, but stop elevating him (and others) to sainthood and using him to rally around. There are much better black people out there that deserve that kind of respect.

    1. Thank you Jose. That is the first sensible perspective I’ve seen on a BU page in years. BU and academia are so “woke” it’s an embarrassment and I have ceased to donate to the university for years. It’s a pity to see where educational indoctrination has gone.

    2. This comment from Jose Doe is full of gaslighting. To blatantly state that all black people have to do is respect authority and in the same comment compare a black persons experience to that of your white wife’s and your children who may look white passing—get out of here. And the implications that black people are thugs and criminals! We do not need your ‘allyship’ or your recommendation for compliance in the hope that maybe a black person may walk away alive. Thank you, but, no thank you, “brother”.

      1. While I do not agree with Jose’s point entirely as it is indeed our responsibility to foster and promote change for the US society, too much BU education today is focused solely on how to be as woke as possible, a tool for indoctrinating students to accept only one perspective, which in turn prompted a mentality of victim hood. Victims and weak people who cannot accept reality for what it is cannot foster the social change that we need, we need leaders that are rational and can indeed push against others that are of truly malign influence, not people that do not agree with you. Therefore, I believe that this campus woke culture has to stop and all this one-sided victim inducing content should not be as prevalent.

  4. As a child growing up in Louisiana in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, I was told:

    “If you encounter racist white people, don’t let them know that we support equality and civil rights. They would label us ‘n-–– lovers’ and treat us badly”

    This “coward’s talk” was shameful, because I was being taught not to stand up for what we believe in; I became part of the problem. Our situation was trivial in comparison to those of Blacks in our town, because any bad treatment we got was insignificant in comparison.

  5. This is such a moving essay. The fact that it is necessary for Black parents to have this and other “talks” with their children and it is not necessary for white parents to do so is shameful for our nation. As a white parent of two teenagers, a daughter and a son, it is a privilege that I do not have to fear for their lives based solely on the color of their skin. I hope all white parents choose to use this privilege in constructive ways. It is not constructive to tell people of color to be respectful to authorities. Everyone knows that and it has not saved a single Black life as far as I know. I love the lyrical ending to the essay
    – the metaphor comparing America to a child or, more aptly, a thug adolescent. I have often thought of our Nation and it’s bravado – it’s actions and reactions – as very much like that of a teenager. There is much beauty and power in the teen years, but not a lot of wisdom. We could use more wisdom.

  6. Dear José,

    Your response would be more compelling if you provided a (real) photograph of yourself. My guess is that you’re probably not a “6’3″ Mexican” but an average white troll of average height, pledged to dampening the support for BLM among college students…

    Congratulations to David Janey for his excellent POV.

    1. Dear James,

      Would you require an ID check in the form of a picture from authors of comments you agree with?

      Frankly, I find your comment disturbing and the article reminiscent of Marxist dialectics where race is substituted for class. Let students be exposed to all views and opinions so that they can make up their own minds unless you want to create an indoctrination camp where no dissent is tolerated.

      1. Dear WT,

        If he’s not clever enough to use the proper Spanish version of “John Doe,” signs point to troll. Mr. “Jose Doe” is not the author of this piece, nor anything other than an anonymous commenter, just like yourself. Critical thinking is an important skill to learn, cultivate, and keep using throughout life. It is especially to use when navigating the Internet. This is why evidence and proof are so vital, before swallowing a whopper whole.

        1. The correct pseudonym would be Juan Doe, but I felt it was better to use my first name, Jose instead of Juan with an anonymous last name so that I don’t get “cancelled” for my thoughts.

          Y si hablo Español y soy de México.

  7. We’re a white Jewish family with a distinct Hebrew last name and I give my kids a talk about being different often. In some parts of this country, there’s a deep rooted hatred that they will have to address at some point in their lives. Some people are antisemitic without realizing it, comments about greediness or running the world, etc. As our country plunges deeper into the proud boys ideology, I’m fearful for their future.

  8. Thank you Mr. Jose Doe. I am a white woman. My white parents gave me the talk when I was a kid….about respecting police, teachers, coaches…and them. I gave the talk to my white son when he was about 10 years old. Our version of the talk was about respecting authority and following instructions without argument….and then telling our parents about it later if something was wrong. It’s part of parenting to tell your kids how to behave. While understanding the difference between a talk about respect versus a talk about not getting killed – there is too much of a common base to not at least acknowledge that just because people are white does not mean they are not ever placed in positions with a jerk at some point. There are some great teachers, there are some great police officers, there are some great coaches, etc. There are also jerks with power gone to their heads who want to be horrible to us (all of us). I’ve been yelled at by a cop for doing nothing wrong. I didn’t argue or fight with him – I just said sorry and did exactly what he said, and then told my friends about what a jerk he was later. Comparing situations is tough because I cannot ever know what it is like to be black, but I do know what it is like to be a woman. Being treated differently based on what you look like is a lifelong battle and is not new. As a species, people have been horrible to one another forever – not just in the US. Tribes fought against tribes – both in the US and Africa; countries have civil wars; wars or hate or battles for dominance based on race, gender, religion….it goes on. How were the pyramids built? – by slaves in Egypt. Hitler; Nigeria; Sudan; the Gaza strip; the world wars, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts (south and north against each other). What is frightening is that we never just acknowledge that we are a species of animal and that there have been battles for dominance forever. We are supposed to have evolved brain power….so why are the same struggles still happening? Perhaps there are too many labels separating us – the concentration is on each different group – we’ve labeled each other to support separations, instead of concentrating on the fact that we are all one species and should have the same rights and opportunities and treatment based on that fact and nothing else. My dream is that one day what we look like won’t matter at all and all women can get equal pay, equal respect, equal education based on the content of their character……whoops – that sounds familiar doesn’t it?!

  9. My version of the talk was a little different. I grew up white in government low income housing in an otherwise relatively wealthy town. Obviously the police only really patrolled the low income neighborhoods. My parents gave me the talk and explained that when push comes to shove we’re the little people, we don’t have the money or company lawyers, cozy connections to the municipal government/police, or the status to avoid trouble even if doing nothing wrong. My mom told me to keep my head down and watch who I’m with because the police will do me wrong and nobody will care, and we can’t afford to make people care. What makes my talk different from ‘the talk’ is that she was never worried about them killing me really. Or if she was worried at all she wasn’t so worried that it overcame her fear of speaking it aloud. She was scared they might beat and arrest me on false pretenses with no ability to make my case in court. She wasn’t wrong, that’s how it still ended up playing out for me about 3 years ago.

  10. It is interesting to see the strong and defensive reactions of white people to this essay. As a white woman, I remember when I first learned of “white privilege” and felt the first shock of pain, shame, anger, and defensiveness. I thought about all the pain and other white people I knew had suffered. I thought about all the times I had been unfairly discriminated against for something. I felt like I had some solidarity with people of color and why was I and my “race” being singled out as the “bad guy,” when I was not a racist? I was advised to sit with my pain – my “white fragility” and heal that and to listen and learn. After I did that for a while, I realized that, yes, we all suffer and we all live with unfairness and discrimination but there is a difference. White people are not killed in America because of the color of their skin. Period. I would suggest to everyone that feels the need to defend themselves against this essay and the feelings it evokes to sit with their feelings and work on healing their own pain. That is the first priority. After that, it is worth really listening the pain of others and trying to connect with their stories and share in an empathic way – seeing the shared experience of pain and looking for a way to lessen everyone’s pain rather than creating more of it. Peace be with you.

  11. I definitely agree that America needs to have “the talk” and address the disparity between Whites and POC. I find it extremely interesting how different these two talks could potentially be. My question to you is do you really think America can have “the talk” and address these issues? There are many ignorant people who do not believe in these disparities, so how can we prove to them the facts? Yes, we have research, data, statistics, but what else can we do to educate Americans on this issue?

    As an Asian woman, I see how differently I am treated from other POC as well. Everyone calls Asians the “model minority” when using that term is actually really harmful and undermines the challenges we face in society. While I can’t fully relate how you may be feeling, I sympathize with you.

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