Democratic National Convention attendees this week cheered a speech by a group called Mothers of the Movement. Introduced by Scandal‘s Tony Goldwyn, they got the topic of black youth killed by police onto the biggest stage in the country.
And today’s powerful final panel of PBS’ first TCA day addressed the national epidemic of such fatal encounters. The subject was The Talk, a two-hour documentary about “the conversation taking place between parents of color and their children” about how to behave if they are stopped by the police. The premiere date isn’t set, but producer and EP Julie Anderson said it probably would be in 2017.
Joining Anderson on the panel were Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy killed by a Cleveland police officer in 2014; retired NYPD sergeant Trevena Garel; filmmaker John Singleton and director and supervising producer Sam Pollard.
The documentary will include five different segments with five different directors dealing with various facets of the problem, but centering on parents of color instructing their children on how to behave when stopped by a police officer, even if that behavior goes counter to teaching those same kids how to stand up for themselves.
Garel, a mother and grandmother, said the conversation has been going on for decades but video recordings and social media are exposing the issue to white audiences. “It’s a conversation I’ve had with my son. It’s a very difficult thing tot try to teach a young man when you teach him to be a man,” she said. “If you know that you’re right you stand up for it. You do that except when you are encountering the police. I don’t care if you are a thousand percent right, I want you to come home to me.”
Rice called the documentary a much-needed production. She says she is a PBS fan and has enjoyed the fact that she didn’t have to monitor her growing kids when they watched PBS. “even though there’s a lot of crap on TV.” The program, she hopes, will open a conversation about racism. “Yes, it is uncomfortable, but we have to start somewhere,” she said.
Anderson said the idea is to look at the issue from a family perspective rather than an institutional or legislative level. She added that the attempt is also not the demonize cops but to foster discussion. She added that PBS plans educational packages and community discussions surrounding the program.
Singleton said he hopes the documentary inspires other police departments to go through the same self-examination that the LAPD did following the 1992 riots. “That improved the situation,” he said.