When parents prepare for “the talk,” it’s usually about the birds and the bees.
But that’s not necessarily the case in African American communities, where “the talk” with young black men is about what to do if you’re approached by law enforcement.
Nashville native Sanya Gragg and her husband Derrick, who played college football at Vanderbilt, have had that talk more than once with their teenage sons.
Derrick Gragg’s parents had that talk with him just before he was old enough for a driver’s license. Derrick and Sanya Gragg had that talk with their kids when they were 10 and 11 years old.
They couple lives in Tulsa, Okla., where Derrick is the athletics director at the University of Tulsa. Sanya Gragg, a former school social worker, wrote a children’s book titled “Momma, Did You Hear the News?” She will discuss and sign the book Thursday at Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore on Jefferson Street.
The first-time author is hoping to help parents of young African American boys in teaching the answer the question: “Do your kids know what to do if approached by law enforcement?”
It’s a difficult conversation and she is “hoping my book can make a difference.”
Talk about where the story came from.
The original idea came to me in my prayer closet. I thought, in the past, about doing a children’s book, but I don’t really think of myself as a social activist or anything like that. So when it came to me to do this book about kids and law enforcement, I was a little hesitant. About 10 days after that, the Terrance Crutcher incident happened right here in Tulsa. That was my confirmation that I needed to write this book because I found myself again having this conversation with my two sons.
Do you think the answer to “Do your kids know what to do if approached by law enforcement” is the most important answer young African Americans need to know?
It’s very important. The hardest part in writing this book is knowing they can do all of these things and it still be a bad situation. … It discouraged me a little bit, honestly, but what I compared it to is wearing a seat belt. It’s the law. You have to wear your seat belt, but if you’re in a car accident you are more likely to walk away if you’re wearing your seatbelt.
Where did “memorize the 5” and the ALIVE acronym originate?
When I decided to write the book, I just started jotting down the things I tell my boys and trying to find a commonality. In my background with social work and working with kids, I know kids are more apt to remember something if you have a list or something they can chant or something that rhymes. I knew I wanted something that was easy to remember. I came up with “A to the L to the I-V-E. Come home alive. That is the key.” Just trying to take this really difficult conversation and make it a little fun and lighten it …