New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s son said this week that he is ‘in fear’ of the police after having talks with his parents about the threat to black youth.

De Blasio first mentioned his conversations about the police with his biracial son during the opening democratic debates that aired on national television last week.  He said that he had “very, very serious talks” about the dangers police posed to young black citizens in America.

Bill de Blasio with his family in 2012. (Wikipedia)

 

Then on Monday, the mayor’s son, Dante, doubled down on the statement in his article in USA Today.

In the piece he stated that his father had given him “the talk” about encounters with the police when he was younger and that when someone called the police on him years later, he felt the fear. Dante says the talks began when he was a young teenager, noting that his parents were worried about what might happen to him as he grew older in the city.

“The consequences of a small mistake could be — getting arrested or maybe even shot … They kept stressing these possible consequences, worried that a 13-year-old wouldn’t understand.”

Dante de Blasio said that he is ‘in fear’ of the police. (Adobe Stock)

 

Dante writes about how when he was on a walk around 1 a.m. stuck outside a friend’s apartment in a California neighborhood, someone reportedly called the police to report a suspicious person – him. 

“I had been standing outside the apartment for about 10 minutes when a police cruiser slowly rolled down the empty block. I figured it must be heading somewhere else, but no, it pulled over right in front of me. For years, I had been aware of the fear I caused as a young black man — I had seen people cross the street to avoid me, I had been followed around stores — yet I could still hardly believe someone thought that I was trying to break into a home. But the truth was obvious: Somebody had called the police on me.”

Dante writes about how he frantically continued to punch in the door code until it finally opened, fleeing before the officer even had time to approach him.

“The cops didn’t even have a chance to step out of the car to question me. My fear in that moment meant that I wasn’t even going to give them the chance,” Dante said.

 

Bill de Blasio brought up the narrative of unarmed black men being targeted by the police. Perhaps he should read the FBI crime statistics over the last few years to see that he’s wrong.

“A good young man, law-abiding young man, who would never think to do anything wrong. And yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we’ve had to literally train him — as families have all over this city for decades — in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him,” de Blasio said.

Hold on.

Aren’t these kinds of talks that push a false narrative leading to real unsafe encounters between police and minorities? If an adult, a caregiver, a role model teaches a young person to be afraid of the police, we’re simply putting them at a greater risk and furthering the divide within our country. 

When someone acts out of fear, their emotions are heightened and they might do something that potentially puts them in danger. Shouldn’t we instead be teaching respect?

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Dante literally writes at the end of his article that, “we’re taught to fear the people meant to protect us.”

Why are we teaching that to our kids? This narrative is only making it worse.

 

When I was growing up I learned how to deal with the police. “The talk” at that point was about respect and how to act when dealing with members of law enforcement if I got pulled over or had units respond to a call. That talk was about what to do, what not to do, saying ‘yes, sir’ or ‘no, ma’am’ and respecting the authority figures. If parents across America are now teaching their children to be afraid, to run, to expect that they will be gunned down, the fear only continues to build.

“we’re taught to fear the people meant to protect us.”

How quickly have we seen situations escalate due to someone resisting or failing to comply with an order? And where does that action so often stem from? Fear.

Parents: it’s time to stop teaching fear and start teaching respect. 

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