"Growing up in Gary, Indiana, the so-called murder capital of America, has shaped my experience. We saw cops attack first and ask questions later. So the first lessons came as microaggressions. Barbershop banter about the newest black celebrity victim, showing you that socioeconomic status didn’t matter because you’ll still look black. Seeing your parents shrink into themselves when talking to officers, going back to "servant talk," as it was called it back then.
The big talk came after we were disrespected in our own home by police. When my mom came home, she was furious! Ranting mad! Now was the time for the talk. “Cops don’t care about black people.”
No sugarcoating. There it was. “Look, stay away from cops. They are not your friends. You answer their questions if they ask you with ‘yes sir’ and ‘no ma’am’ unless it is incriminating, then you exercise your right to be silent. Don’t talk back, don’t even slouch, pull up your pants. Be polite, no sudden movements. Don’t give him a reason because these cops will shoot you and not think twice about it.” She used choice other words, but that was it. All our suspicions, fears about police vocalized by the smartest person we knew.
My kids will get all the talks. I’ll teach them to respect the law and the people tasked to uphold it, but to be weary of them as well, because they are still people, too. Flawed people. I will teach them that hate has many forms and racism is but one head of the hydra. I will teach them to speak out when their rights are violated and treat every injustice with the incredulity it deserves.
Because I never want my kids to be used to it. To think it’s normal behavior to be dehumanized by others. I will teach that no reason is enough to justify their demise. I will teach them that they are human, too, regardless of their hue and their personhood doesn’t need to qualified with descriptors like “honor roll student,” “good kid,” or “nice to everyone.” Maybe we’ll get justice before that time comes. Just maybe.” - Nico Davis, 25, Gary, Indiana.