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'The Talk' In Black Communities Brings Awareness to Police Reform

There is specific training for young Black Americans for interacting with law enforcement. The training, common among Black families, implores drivers to keep their lights on and hands on the steering wheel if stopped by police, as well as to be courteous and always be clear about what they’re doing before they make any movement, Often referred to as “the talk,” it has drawn increased awareness after Tyre Nichols’s death, and now many Black Americans are hoping that renewed attention will lead to long-desired reforms, according to The Hill. Nichols was pulled over at a traffic stop and beaten by five Memphis Police Department officers in January. He later died as a result of his injuries. The 29-year-old’s death sparked outrage and fueled new calls for law enforcement accountability. President Biden addressed the issue during his State of the Union speech, acknowledging Nichols’s parents in attendance. “Most of us in here have never had to have ‘the talk’ — ‘the talk’ — that brown and Black parents have had to have with their children,” Biden said. “Beau, Hunter, Ashley — my children — I never had to have the talk with them. I never had to tell them, ‘If a police officer pulls you over, turn your interior lights on right away. Don’t reach for your license. Keep your hands on the steering wheel.’” Biden’s speech resonated with Black Americans. Many expressed hope that hearing a president so openly acknowledge “the talk” could lead to reform.

The mention of “the talk” spread across party lines, with former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele speaking about his own experience of “the talk” with his sons on MSNBC. “It wasn’t just about police encounters, it was about life encounters,” Steele said. “These are real-life stories and real-life experiences that continue for a lot of African Americans today.” Studies have shown that Black drivers are more likely to be stopped than white drivers. In some cities, like Chicago, Black drivers are seven times more likely to be stopped. A 2021 study by the American Psychological Association found that police officers were less likely to speak respectfully to Black drivers than white drivers. Biden, along with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Democrats generally, has been calling for police reform since graphic video footage of Nichols’s beating was released to the public last month. At his funeral, Nichols’s mother, RowVaughn Wells, pleaded with Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a sweeping police reform bill that would ban all levels of law enforcement from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants. It would also end qualified immunity and prohibit racial and religious profiling by law enforcement officers. ” Change would also mean forbidding the Department of Justice from giving grants to departments that hire fired or suspended officers. Before any of that can happen, said Chaz Beasley, a former state lawmaker from North Carolina, many still need to acknowledge that there is an issue with police violence.


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