Gabrielle Union's Brutal Honesty About Raising Black Sons Is a Reality for Too Many Moms

Actress Gabrielle Union arrives at the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge  And Galaxy Note 5 Launch

We all do our best as parents to raise our children to be respectful of the world around them and to reach for their dreams. And while most conversations moms and dads have with our kids around the dinner table are similar, there are certain talks parents raising black sons have to have -- because, sadly, many of those sons will face profiling and discrimination due to the assumption they're a physical threat. It doesn't surprise me to hear Gabrielle Union discussing the fears she has raising black sons. It's a reality many families with black children face -- and it has become too deadly to ignore.

Save

Advertisement

"Our conversations about race and police are constant."

The fact that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court admits black men have a reason to fear authority and Terrence Cunningham, the president of the largest national police chief organization, says there's been a "historical mistreatment" of minorities helps bring to light exactly what parents like Gabrielle Union are faced with on a daily basis -- regardless of social status and income.

More from CafeMom: I'm Scared to Be Raising a Black Son in a World That's Not Changing Fast Enough

Speaking with Essence, the 43-year-old actress opened up about what it's like raising "privileged black boys" with her husband, NBA star Dwyane Wade. (Wade has full custody of sons Zaire, 14, and Zion, 9, from a previous marriage, and nephew Dahveon Morris, 15.)

Gabrielle explains that her kids are "rich kids," whose friends "talk kind of crazy to adults." But her sons can't do the same:

Not you guys! Cause, a.) that's not the house we have, and b.) you can't say crazy, disrespectful things to authority figures and think you're going to walk away and make it home.

That's not your reality.

No matter how much I try to fight it, Gabrielle's words spoke to a fear inside me that keeps me up at night -- that has me constantly praying over my kids as they continue to transition from "those adorable little boys" to young black men ...

The fear of their being involved in a profiling situation and not making it home.

Gabrielle mentioned a recent ordeal to Essence that made both her and husband Dwyane panic about the well-being of their kids:

We had a situation not too long ago where the boys wanted to walk down to a neighbor's basketball court, and I said, 'No,' because it was after dark. I don't trust our neighbors to see our teenage boys -- our tall teenage boys -- as children, and not as threats to 'put down' like an animal.

As we're in route to them, there are cop cars coming from them. And it wasn't even the cops, necessarily, that I was afraid of. Our neighbors also have personal security. And in a 'stand your ground' state -- an open carry state -- they'll shoot you first and get off later.

More from CafeMom: I'm Terrified & Angry That Raising My Black Sons to Obey the Law Isn't Enough to Save Them

As a black woman raising black sons, I find myself trying to navigate how to bring them up without making them continuously fearful of everyone or angry at the world.

They will learn to respect all people, no matter if it's reciprocated. They will learn to listen to the police, as we have a special place in our hearts for law enforcement. (My father is a retired sergeant who has constant conversations with me about race, the police, and how to deal with profiling encounters -- that will likely happen -- and make it home in one piece.)

... But they will also be equipped with the knowledge that certain experiences might happen because of presumed aggression.

My husband has been prodded, questioned, and stopped countless times by police for "looking suspicious" (I guess an engineer wearing khakis, like Jake from State Farm, will do it) in the predominantly non-black community we once called home -- where we even owned property.

I have seen racial profiling firsthand, experienced it, and I know it exists.

More from CafeMom: Asking for Police Accountability Isn't Racist or Anti-Cop -- It's Just Fair

Gabrielle Union perfectly summed up my thoughts:

We try to make them as aware and as informed as possible without stripping them of their pride. And that's the thing: How do you arm these black boys with all the knowledge and all the pride and all the power that we can, but ask them to be subservient when it comes to illegal search and seizure?

All I can do is strive to raise educated and amazing men and pray it's enough to ensure their safety as they grow up and continue life as black men.

 

Image via Xavier Collin/Image Press/Splash

Save

Read More >