Trayvon Martin's killing has had an especially chilling effect on black parents who see their sons
as no different from the 17-year-old Martin, who was cut down while walking through a gated community. It has reinforced their fear that at any moment, in any environment, their boys could be viewed with suspicion — suddenly the target of a wary neighbor or shop owner or overzealous police officer.
I am a black man. This is one of the realities I have lived.
My parents prepared me for it.
To be sure, my parents taught me to transcend matters of race, interrogate them when necessary, and even ignore them where possible. However, they also gave me "The Talk."
For other boys coming of age, parents may end "The Talk"
after a lecture about sex, drugs, alcohol or Internet porn. The rite for black boys often is more rigorous: We're also drilled on a set of rules designed to protect us against suspicions too often associated with the color of our skin.
Needless to say, I never got this talk. And I wear hoodies without any concern that they might raise suspicion or draw trouble.