WNET film takes viewers inside ‘the talk’ about dealings with police

Print More

A documentary coming to public television focuses on a fact of life already familiar to parents and children of color: the need to be wary of the police.

Produced by WNET, The Talk takes its title and starting point from the discussions African-American and Latino parents have with their children about avoiding confrontations with police officers. Throughout its two hours, six pieces from different filmmakers and perspectives examine issues including how officers are trained, the effects of violence on families and what community outreach organizations are doing to address the problem.



“It’s like an underground, accepted family conversation, so we thought we would get that conversation out into the world to talk about it,” said Julie Anderson, e.p. of documentaries and development at WNET. “I think a lot of white families would never consider the things that primarily African-American families — and, to a lesser extent, Latino families — have to consider. Particularly when they have boys, although girls are not exempt from this kind of issue either.”

One mother, Anderson said, taught her African-American son to keep his driver’s license and registration on the dashboard when driving to avoid the appearance of reaching for a weapon if stopped by police. That’s “the talk.”

“Another woman told us she moved into a white neighborhood, and she took her son to the police station and introduced him to all the police officers so they would know he belonged there,” Anderson said. “These are things that a white family would never even think about.”

A segment of the documentary explores the case of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old African-American boy shot by police in Cleveland after being seen in a park with a toy gun. The Talk includes video of Rice in the park and his shooting, with excerpts from the 911 call and police radio communications. Then it moves on to the fallout.

Anderson is leading production of the film in partnership with Academy Award–nominated producer and director Sam Pollard. Pollard has won Emmys for his work on the HBO documentaries When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts and By the People: The Election of Barack Obama.

Each piece of the two-hour film was created by a different producer or team of producers. CPB contributed $1.2 million to production.

The Talk also features celebrities, including Kenya Barris, e.p. and creator of ABC’s Black-ish, which aired a critically acclaimed episode last year about “the talk.” Other celebrities who appear include director John Singleton, rapper Nas, actress Rosie Perez and New York Times columnist Charles Blow.

The celebrities show up in interstitials dispersed throughout The Talk. In these clips, directed by Pollard, the personalities will share their own experiences with racism.

Pollard (Photo: LaMont Hamilton Photographic Imaging)

Pollard (Photo: LaMont Hamilton Photographic Imaging)

“We wanted to have some voices talk about their own personal experiences in terms of race in America,” Pollard said of the two-minute interstitials. “They all tell a personal story that connects us.”

The celebs are also expected to help drum up support for the project on social media leading up to release, Anderson said. “We’d like to just get a conversation started that can lead up to the broadcast,” she said. “It’s more than just a two-hour documentary project.”

Anderson said she hopes that local broadcasters, especially in communities where pieces were filmed for the doc, will be receptive to partnering on outreach leading up to the premiere.

“These documentaries that I work on should not just live only on television,” Pollard said. “They should not just come on television, you see it, and they go away. A documentary like this needs to be seen in community centers, in churches and in cities across the country.”

4 thoughts on “WNET film takes viewers inside ‘the talk’ about dealings with police

  1. ““I think a lot of white families would never consider the things that primarily African-American families — and, to a lesser extent, Latino families — have to consider. ”

    Apparently Anderson didn’t talk to any white people. I got “The Talk” from my father, and gave it to my kids. It isn’t a black thing. It’s being a responsible parent.

    Here are few facts Anderson and her like-minded colleagues need to come to terms with:
    – twice as many whites are shot by cops than blacks
    – black and Hispanic police officers are more likely to fire a gun at blacks than white officers
    – blacks are more likely to kill cops than be killed by cops
    – black youths commit six times more murders, three times more rapes, 10 times more robberies and three times more assaults than did their white counterparts. That may explain why cops of all races are more skittish when a stop involves a black male youth.

  2. -Talking without the personal and racial narrative of white-terrorism makes this conversation impossible to be effective:

    -The historical context of black oppression and suppression within the judicial
    system was never spoken in clear manner. Talk abt it!

    -No examination of the peonage system of debt slave system and the terror of the overseer/slave breaker/paddy roller which morphed into the police system.

    – The weakness and flaw within the 13th amendment…that allow slavery within the criminal [in] justice system.

    – The use of law enforcement to wage/war& terror on the..black community to maintain white power structure/domination.

    -Not individual police abuse but legalized oppression to maintain economic slavery
    or social and political control of black folks.

    -It’s [the talk] significance has been the framework of many generational discussion
    within black families/

    -I was surprised at- how one of the most crucial survival strategy developed by black parents, since the time of reconstruction was framed by a 45 minute review of police training?
    -Not..the historical narrative… of this is: “What great grand pa told me about how not to be murdered by the police”,

    – The only reference to police racist was implicit..but never challenged within the frame or context of the horrors and terrorism by Jim Crow politics and the New Jim Crow of Mass Incarceration !!!

    -Where was the generational narrative approaches of black folks, the oral transmission between parent and child, a clear ‘sit-down’ was never heard!!!

    – I would also like to hear what police persons :would tell a black person who are confronted by a racist cop??

    -What was the difference or the same criterion for white racist cops?

    – When is the blue wall going to be dismantled,

    -Why are they approving laws that help criminal cops avoid prosecution??

    **Because the real …‘Griot African tradition ‘…that hits the
    meat /bone pain /fear within the talk is excluded from this presentation I was disappointed..

    – -With the reality/ danger of white racism and terror from white supremacy in relation to black bodies was never explicit stated?
    How can you really heard me talking??!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *