“The talk” is the term used by parents when they’re first educating their children about sex.
For black Americans, however, the term has a harsher meaning. The talk in black households centers not on hormones and intimacy but on survival: What to do, and more importantly, what not to do, when facing a police officer.
Father And Son Time
While out of town with his eleven-year-old son, one father was forced to face that talk a lot sooner than he intended.
It was supposed to be a fun, father-son bonding trip. The father (original poster or OP) was traveling in another state with his eleven-year-old son. On the first night of their trip, they stayed up late playing video games. When it was time for bed, OP’s son realized he’d forgotten his toothbrush at home.
It wasn’t a big deal for OP. It was late, yes, but only about 11:00 PM—surely somewhere would be open. He and his son hopped in the car and drove out to find a gas station or late-night convenience store.
Things took a turn when the pair got pulled over. OP is a black man, historically a segment of the population that has experienced a disproportionate amount of police violence. So, although OP’s only offense was a burnt taillight, he knew things could easily go wrong.
The officer approached and asked for a license and registration. OP handed it over, and the officer left to run it. According to OP, he “took forever,” and returned asking if there were drugs or weapons in the car.
The answer was no. Despite this, the officer kept shining his light in the backseat—right on OP’s son. He asked what the two were doing out so late at night, in another state no less. He asked OP, “like ten times.” OP answered the question each time, saying repeatedly that they were out looking for a gas station or a place to purchase a toothbrush.
Out of nowhere, the cop told OP to step out of the car so he could search it. “As a black guy, I know better than to question a cop’s authority,” OP told readers, “So I stepped out, and he told my son to go sit in his cruiser.”
His Son Was Deeply Concerned
Terrified, OP’s young son started crying. “Next thing I know, the cop is cuffing me and calling for backup. So finally, I was like, what the f— did I do? Why am I being arrested?”
The officer told OP he wasn’t being arrested. The handcuffs were to ensure he didn’t run off while the car was searched. “As if I would run when my kid is in his car,” OP vented to Redditors.
Things continued to escalate. A second cop appeared to provide “backup”. OP was forcibly held against the back of his car by this new cop while the first searched the vehicle. The officer found nothing—as expected.
As soon as the search ended, OP told the cops to release his son. By this point, the boy was “absolutely sobbing.”
“When it was all finally over [my son] told me he thought they were gonna kill me right in front of him,” OP shared.
He felt so furious and upset by the situation that he didn’t sleep that night. “I don’t know how to explain to him that this sh– just… happens,” he wrote, “And that you can’t disagree with them because it’s too dangerous. How do I comfort him?”
Social Media Users Responded to the Post
Redditors flocked to the post to share their support and offer advice. Those that had no words of wisdom still felt the father’s grief. “I don’t have any answers,” a user wrote, “but I am really sorry this happened to you and your son.” Another user echoed the sentiment, “That’s unacceptable,” they wrote, “I’m so sorry, OP.”
A black father empathized with OP, “How did I know you were a black male from the title and like three sentences in? Dude, I’ve had this sh– happen to me many times but thankfully, not with my kid there. The worst part is when your kid thought they would kill you; what can you REALLY say? You can’t assure them the cops won’t kill you. You have no way to know, and it isn’t up to you.”
Consider Your Options
Many users recommended therapy to help both OP and his son work through the trauma. “Your son could probably benefit to work out those… feelings in therapy,” one parent advised, “Enough [b***sh***] has happened and made headlines that he probably thought you could have potentially been the next victim.”
Perhaps the most practical advice on the post came from a user recommending legal action. “You can have a conversation with your son about how that officer violated your rights, and you can contact the ACLU together. This would show him [both] his and your rights matter and how to stand up for them.”
The ACLU, or American Civil Liberties Union, is a great resource to fight injustices everywhere. Founded in 1920, the organization works in the courts, legislatures, and communities to defend the rights of American citizens. The commenter mentioned that they could point OP to free or low-cost legal aid and mental health services.
The tragic death of George Floyd Jr. in May of 2020, among too many others, put a global spotlight on police brutality in the United States. More than anything, users were grateful that OP prioritized safety and that both he and his son could drive away. Hopefully, the healing can begin.
This article “He Thought They Were Gonna Kill Me”: 11-Year-Old Traumatized After Watching Dad Get Handcuffed was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching. Source.
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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.