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'It's just traumatic as a parent': A mother discusses raising Black sons amid headlines of police brutality

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As the trial of George Floyd’s death played non-stop on cable news, 21-year-old Daunte Wright and 13-year-old Adam Toledo were killed by police.

For Toronto-based yoga and meditation teacher Rebeckah Price, the constant barrage of headlines detailing the death of young Black men at the hands of law enforcement feels overwhelming.

“No one deserves to be running away, told to stop, hands in the air and still shot,” Price tells Yahoo Life. “It’s just traumatic as a parent to be in that place of seeing that — like I could send my kids to the corner store and they may not come back.”

Like so many mothers of Black children, Price has had “the talk” with her three sons about potential threats from the police. She explained the reality that some people may view their skin color with fear, and that fear could put them in danger. Price felt like it was important for her to be transparent with her sons about the realities they would face as they grew from Black boys to Black men.

“Those conversations for me and them started at a very young age, because I wanted to keep it real with them and not let them have a wake-up call. Sometimes the wake-up call might be the only call,” said Price. “Really making them understand that at some point, people are not going to see you the way that I see you. People are going to see you as a threat.”

According to a study by the Kaiser Family foundation, seven in 10 African Americans say unconscious racial bias has had a negative impact on their lives.

Rebeckah Price with her 21-year-old son Jahbril Price-Noel
Rebeckah Price with her 21-year-old son Jahbril Price-Noel (Photo: Rebeckah Price)

Price’s 21-year-old son Jahbril is a student athlete who plays college basketball in California. He remembers his parents talking to him about things he may encounter in the world, but 2012 made those threats feel more real. “My earliest memory of really sitting down and listening to what my parents had to say was probably Trayvon Martin, and he was around the same age,” Jahbril recalls. “I started to really be emotionally attached to seeing people who look like me die just for being themselves, and that hurt me.”

The ability to be himself, free and authentic, is what Jahbril craves the most. He doesn’t want to be prejudged because he’s tall or plays basketball. He simply wants to be Jahbril, but he knows the rules are different because of how he may be perceived.

“I just want to wild out and be the Blackest version of myself, but I can’t even do that,” he told Yahoo Life. “There are some times where I want to wake up and put on a durag and walk outside, but I can’t do that.”

Perception is something both Price and her son are concerned about when it comes to these high-profile cases. When a Black person is killed by the police, both feel as if the backgrounds of victims are quickly picked through by the media and social media. Previous offenses are brought up and reputations are diminished.

“You’re trying to dehumanize people’s existence. They are human beings who deserve grace and who deserve dignity,” said Price.

Jahbril added, “I’m a big brother, a great boyfriend in my opinion, a great friend to my best friends, I’m a student, I’m a student athlete. Like, there’s a lot of different hats that people wear, and I don’t like how, especially on social media, the first thing they want to do is dig into a person’s past.”

Price started iRise yoga+wellness to create a space for Black women and women of color to feel welcome in wellness. Through her platform, Price teaches yoga and meditation and facilitates conversations that focus on wellness and spirituality. After the deaths of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo, Price hosted a video event where Black women could simply log on to hold healing space together in community.

In January, Price shared a meditation for Black sons, which was inspired by George Floyd and the final words of Eric Garner — “I can’t breathe.” In it, she reminds her children of their beauty, strength and resilience. She reminds her sons that they are worthy. She reminds them to breathe.

“I really wanted them to anchor into the understanding of the power of their breath,” said Price. “Because their breath is what keeps them alive, their breath is what keeps them going. So for them to be reminded to remember to breathe during these times, when tomorrow we might watch a new story in the news.”

Produced by Jacquie Cosgrove

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