Like so many mothers of Black children, Rebeckah Price has had “the talk” with her three sons about potential threats from the police. She explained the reality that some people may view their skin color with fear, and that fear could put them in danger. Price felt like it was important for her to be transparent with her sons about the realities they would face as they grew from Black boys to Black men.
“Those conversations for me and them started at a very young age because I wanted to keep it real with them and not let them have a wake up call. Sometimes the wake up call might be the only call,” said Price. “Really making them understand that at some point, people are not going to see you the way that I see you. People are going to see you as a threat.”
Price’s 21 year-old son, Jahbril, says, “My earliest memory of really sitting down and listening to what my parents had to say, was probably Trayvon Martin, and he was around the same age,” Jahbril recalls. “I started to really be emotionally attached to seeing people who look like me die just for being themselves, and that hurt me.” he says. “I just want to wild out and be the Blackest version of myself, but I can’t even do that,” he told Yahoo Life. “There are some times where I want to wake up and put on a du rag and walk outside, but I can’t do that.”
In Jan., Price shared a meditation for Black sons, which was inspired by George Floyd and the final words of Eric Garner — “I can’t breathe.” In it, she reminds her children of their beauty, strength and resilience. She reminds her sons that they are worthy. She reminds them to breathe.
REBECKAH PRICE: No one deserves to be running away, told to stop, hands in the air, and then still shot. It's just traumatic, as a parent, to be in a place of seeing that and being like, I could send my kid to the corner store, and they might not come back.
BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: Hi, I'm Brittany Jones-Cooper, and welcome to Unmuted. Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo are just the latest police killings that has sparked protests across the country. Here to discuss the talk that Black mothers give their children about how to handle police encounters, is yoga and meditation teacher Rebeckah Price, who creates healing spaces for people of color, and her 21-year-old son Jahbril Price-Noel. Rebeckah, you have three sons. What age did you start having the talk with your sons about those encounters with police?
REBECKAH PRICE: Those conversations, for me and them, started at a very young age, because I really wanted to keep it real with them, and not let them have a wake-up call. And sometimes the wake-up call might be the only call, right? Really making them understand that, at some point, people are not going to see you the way that I see you. People are going to see you as a threat. I felt it was really important for me to be transparent about the realities that they were going to be growing up in, as they started to transition from young Black boys into young Black men into Black men.
BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: Jahbril, do you remember having these conversations with your mom when you were younger, about police and what to do if you ever encountered one?
JAHBRIL PRICE-NOEL: My earliest memory of really sitting down and listening to what my parents had to say was probably Trayvon Martin. He was around the same age. I started to really emotionally be attached to seeing people who look like me die just for being themselves, and that hurt me. There's a dynamic too, because I'm tall, I play basketball, so people already assume and had their prejudgments of me. There's plenty of times I just want to wild out and be like the blackest version of myself, but I can't even do that. Like there's sometimes-- maybe I just want to wake up and put on a do-rag and walk outside, but I can't do that. Like when it comes to friends who look like me, I'm like yo-- let me know when you home. Call me. Or like if they don't call me, I'll call them. Like you know, it's more of a urgency. There's more emphasis on getting home safely.
BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: We keep getting hit with these headlines-- Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo-- and it seems like, just when we start to heal, there's another wound that's opened. Does it feel like that to you as well, Rebeckah? REBECKAH PRICE: Yeah, it does. These are the stories that people are capturing, not even the stories that people haven't even heard. Then you hear the other side. Like, oh well, this kid had a misdemeanor charge. You're trying to dehumanize people's existence. It is very harmful. And then what are we supposed to do-- as parents, as a community-- because someone's going to say they deserved what they had come. These people who have died are sons, fathers, children. They are human beings who deserve grace and who deserve dignity.
JAHBRIL PRICE-NOEL: The first thing that happens, as soon as a person like me is killed, is they go and they backtrack. And I'm like, dang, that could be me. They could try to put me in a light, like he did X,Y, and Z in his past. But really and truly, I'm a big brother, a great boyfriend in my opinion, a great friend to my best friends. I'm a student athlete. There's a lot of different hats that people wear. We are people first. We have backgrounds, we have stories.
BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: It is traumatic to see these videos-- these headlines-- week after week. And it is tons of anxiety to be a mother-- to be a Black mother. You posted a meditation for your sons on Instagram. What does that mean to you?
- And may you breathe. May you breathe. May you breathe.
REBECKAH PRICE: George Floyd saying that he couldn't breathe. Eric Garner is saying that he couldn't breathe. Like your breath is the one thing that you take when you were born. It's the last thing you take when you die. And so I really wanted them to anchor into the understanding of the power of their breath, because the breath is what keeps them alive. Their breath is what keeps them going. For them to be reminded to be able to breathe, especially during these times, when tomorrow we might watch a news story in the news, right? I think, especially Jahbril taught me how to be more patient, and be more grounded person. I don't tell him a lot, but he is one of my biggest inspirations.
BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: I can feel that, because having this conversation with you two today is something you wake up wanting to talk about. But I think it's so important to see a mother and a son engaging in this conversation, and just expressing the importance of seeing humanity, and having this community and being seen. I want to thank you both for joining us today.
JAHBRIL PRICE-NOEL: Thank you. I appreciate that for real. Sincerely.