The Talk – Race in America Tackles the Issue of Young People of Color and Their Uneasy Encounters With Law Enforcement

The Talk – Race in America Tackles the Issue of Young People of Color and Their Uneasy Encounters With Law Enforcement

Posted by Cassie Gage on

The Talk – Race in America is a two-hour documentary about the increasingly common conversation taking place in homes and communities across the country between parents of color and their children, especially sons, about how to behave if they are ever stopped by the police. In many homes, “the talk,” as it is called, usually contains phrases like this:

If you are stopped by the police:
Always answer “yes sir, no sir”; never talk back; don’t make any sudden movements; don’t put your hands in your pockets; obey all commands; if you think you are falsely accused, save it for the police station. I would rather pick you up at the station than the morgue…


The Talk – Race in America, a multiplatform media initiative, airs Monday, February 20 at 8 p.m. on OETA. The film will present six personal stories to illustrate the issue from multiple points of view: parent, child, the police and the community. Filmed across the country, in communities including Long Beach, California; Oakland, California; St. Louis, Missouri; Richland County, South Carolina; Memphis, Tennessee; and Cleveland, Ohio, the stories will include interviews with academics, police force members, community activists and family members. 

Among those profiled are activist and founder of The Ethics Project, Dr. Christi Griffin, who, after living through the traumatic events of Ferguson, created “Parent 2 Parent,” a series of conversations with black parents talking with white parents about “the talk” with their black sons; Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, who was a 12-year-old boy killed by the Cleveland police while playing with a toy gun in a local park; Reverend Catherine Brown, who was assaulted by Chicago Police in front of her children in her own car; Trevena Garel, retired sergeant, New York City Police Department (NYPD), who has investigated allegations of misconduct involving both uniformed and/or civilian members of the NYPD; Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President and retired officer, New York City Police Department (NYPD); the Ramirez family, whose 28-year-old son, Oscar, was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff in Paramount, California, a community southeast of Los Angeles; and members of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, who share the protocols for using lethal force and describe the danger from a police officer’s point of view.

In addition, sharing their own stories are Kenya Barris, creator/executive producer of Peabody Award-winning ABC series black-ish; Nas, musician/activist (Illmatic, Life Is Good, Untitled); Rosie Perez, actor/director, activist (Do the Right Thing, White Men Can’t Jump, Fearless, Pineapple Express); John Singleton, director/screenwriter/producer (Boyz N the Hood, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Baby Boy, Poetic Justice, Hustle and Flow); and Charles Blow,New York Times columnist.

Each story is produced by a different filmmaker to ensure that diverse perspectives are presented. The project’s director and supervising producer, filmmaker Sam Pollard, an Academy Award nominee and multiple Emmy Award winner, and Academy Award nominee Julie Anderson, closely oversaw the producers and managed the overall creative look, storytelling and structure.

More than a television event,The Talk – Race in America will be accompanied by a national engagement campaign and will seek to address national concerns through local public television stations and community outreach partners.

Extensive social media will support the broadcast and live events with public media stations across the country. Beginning in January 2017, The Talk – Race in America will launch a seven-month social media conversation at #TheTalkPBS and @TheTalkPBS on Facebook and Twitter. Social media conversations will explore the topics of community policing, the power of representation in media and how to talk to children about race. Online audience members will also be invited to share their experiences of having or giving “the talk.” Visit PBS.org/thetalk for exclusive video content, special features and more. Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #TheTalkPBS.

Geeta Gandbhir, Shola Lynch, One9, Erik Parker, Llewellyn M. Smith and Jennifer Maytorena Taylor are the segment producers. Sandie Pedlow is executive producer for Latino Public Broadcasting. Sam Pollard is the director and supervising producer. Julie Anderson is the producer and executive producer. Stephen Segaller is the executive-in-charge.

The Talk – Race in America is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, in association with Latino Public Broadcasting.

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