I Hate That I Have To Tell You is a Children’s Book about the constant conversation Black parents must have with their children about how to handle encounters with police, but knowing in the end, it may not matter.
Is this children’s book controversial? Absolutely! But pretending this isn’t a reality has done more harm than good, and if change truly begins with the children, this book, and the parents ready to read it and talk about it honestly with their children, will be another step toward a more just future.
“One thing we don’t think about when planning for children is how to teach them how not to be killed,” Darnell Lamont Walker, the book’s author says. “At 11 years old, my son came to me, matter-of-factly telling me about the dream he had that morning in which a cop attacked and tried to kill him. Undoubtedly it was the news of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling that I refused to hide from him that put these thoughts in his head. ‘Why do they keep killing us,’ he asked. ‘I don’t have an answer for that right now,’ I told him.”
“These talks are too often between him and I. Our first conversation around and through the issue was after Detroit Police murdered 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones. My son was 5 at the time. ‘I hate that I have to tell you these things,’ I said, ‘but I have to hope they will keep you alive for as long as you can be, okay?’ He didn’t understand then, and probably forgot as soon as he ran back into the yard, but I made sure to constantly remind him.”
With colorful, watercolor illustrations, and flowing, easily comprehended wording, Darnell Lamont Walker hopes to capture the attention of children, and with a quick worksheet and tips in the back, hopes to help parents hold these conversations, and even have new ones, with their child.
Darnell Lamont Walker is a father, writer, and filmmaker, currently working on a documentary series about Black Americans escaping American Tyranny. He resides in Los Angeles.