Since the death of Trayvon Martin, I have been hearing about the "race talk." Apparently many black parents at some point have a talk with their young boys about the risks of certain types of behaviors around authority figures. Don't run, don't stick your hands in your pockets, don't get sassy with the police etc....
Recently a writer for National Review was fired for a kind of parody of that talk, wherein the white parent would warn their kids about the dangers of being among large crowds of black people among other things.
The talk or talks beg some questions. What kind of talk about race is appropriate with your children, if any? Is it common sense to note the disparities in violent crime rates, for example, or is that racist? Is their a line that crosses from good sense to racism that is easily grasped, or is there a gray area?
The job of a parent is to educate their children about all sorts of dangers that they might face. Let us focus on race and violent crime as an example. Certainly there are correlations between race and violent crime rates. I believe the rate is highest in this country among black people. Should parents pretend that this is untrue for some reason? Not in my view. But the dangers for children are many. Males commit a much higher percentage of violent crimes than do women. Young people commit violent crimes at a higher rate that old people. Is the job of a parent to ensure that their children are afraid of everyone?
Parents should want their children to possess the skills and knowledge to accurately assess risks, political correctness be damned. At the same time they need to ensure that their children do not develop irrational or excessive fears about risks, be they young people, bugs, dogs, Germans, germs, gerbils, etc... Moreover, when assessing other people, it is very important to emphasize that statistics, however accurate, are meaningless when it comes to individuals. As such, it is critical to never to treat any individual differently because of the statistical category to which they belong.