“The Talk” Before “The Knee”

This Sunday, before we see which NFL players take a knee during the Super Bowl, I have a suggestion. Listen to author and thought-leader Julie Lythcott-Haims describe The Talk.

The Talk is what Black parents impart to their children — often many times — to prepare them for the challenges they are likely to face because of their skin color. The goal is to help keep them safe without crushing their self-esteem.

Before reading on, please listen to this compelling two-minute excerpt from Dean Julie (that’s what they called her when she was Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University). Then I’ll explain the broader mission of this story.

Julie Lythcott-Haims on The Wavemaker Conversations Podcast

Now you’ve heard one Talk, which came up in this episode of Wavemaker Conversations: A Podcast for the Insanely Curious with Julie Lythcott-Haims about her new memoir, Real American.

But I couldn’t let The Talk begin and end with Julie’s 2 minutes.

She points out that every Black family’s Talk (or Talks) varies in important details. The Black community is not monolithic. Neither is The Talk.

So Wavemaker Conversations has begun an oral history project on The Talk.

Here Is The Ask

I invite Black parents to record a video of themselves on their cell phones describing The Talk they gave their sons or daughters. And I’d like Black adults to share their accounts of The Talk they received as children and the impression it left.

You can share your videos of your talk through the following link:


Wavemaker will screen and curate the videos before they are presented publicly.

I believe that once we gather a critical mass of Talks, if enough Americans listen, especially us parents, then the next time we see someone take a knee, or do other similar symbolic acts, we’ll view them through a different lens — perhaps one that’s less polarizing.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.