Having “the talk” means something different to different families. Your mind may automatically go to the birds and the bees. But for thousands of Black families, it refers to essential conversations they’re having with their children — especially their sons — about encounters with the police.

The tragic rise of unarmed Black men (and in some instances, unarmed Black children) tragically killed by police officers has inspired one mother to tackle this very tough subject through a children’s book.

Her goal: to help families navigate “the talk.” And as a mother of two biracial children myself, I’m grateful.

Momma, Did You Hear the News? by Sanya Whittaker Gragg is about a 10-year-old boy who is scared and confused after seeing a police shooting of an unarmed man on the news. His parents realize it’s time to have a tough conversation, so they can give him thoughtful, plain advice that will help keep him safe.

Momma, Did You Hear the News? by Sanya Whittaker Gragg

The sad truth in America is that “the talk” is not a new phenomenon for families of color. My husband vividly remembers his own first conversation with his father about this very subject, and how difficult it was to process the idea that he could be treated differently than White friends even in the same situation.

Gragg’s book is sure to give today’s young families some of the tools they need to embark on this conversation in a very empowering way. I admire that it doesn’t shy away from the sad reality of police brutality, while also making it clear that, of course, not all police officers are bad.

Related: Just Like Me: A book subscription box created for children of color

In other words, this is not an “us vs. them” book — it’s a smart, difficult look at the realities of growing up in a world that is not and will never be “colorblind.”

I also hope that this book will be read by White children at home or in schools, so they too can understand that discrimination and bigotry are not issues in our past and can help become part of the solution for future generations.

After all, the lesson of respect for all is one that I think every family, regardless of racial background, can take to heart.

You can find Sanya Whitaker Gragg’s new children’s book, Momma, Did you Hear the News? at our affiliate Amazon or check with your local independent booksellers.

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