Transcript for How 2 families’ conversations on race have evolved over years of injustice
Will you take a breath test for me? Yes or no? I don't want to refuse anything. Rayshard brooks, did you see about that? The cops come up. Put your hands behind your back. And when they tried to arrest him, he starts fighting them off. Stop! And I thought what I told you about you have an encounteder with the police, like your job is to live through the encounter. Yeah. Reporter: For Solomon Jones Jr., difficult conversations like this one with his 15-year-old son aren't optional, they're essential. But then I thought about how George Floyd was cooperative, and he still died. Mm-hm. Just like what do we do. Yeah. Reporter: We call it "The talk", a discussion black parents have had with their children for generations, now rooted in a new sense of urgency as the list of black men and women killed by police continues to grow. They look at you. They just see a young black man. Mm-hm. And whatever prejudice they bring to that, that's what they Reporter: In recent weeks, a coalition of black and white Americans from coast-to-coast have taken to the streets, demanding racial equality and justice. At a time when many across this country are wondering if this will be a turning point for progress, we revisited two families we had previously spent time with during flash points around racing and policing in America to see if anything has changed for them this time. It's so sad that it took another person dying to actually get to the point of where people are like, oh, we should be doing more about this. Reporter: They are teenagers growing up in middle class households in thphiladelphia area. They both have dedicated fathers who are married, college educated. We first met them six years ago. Hello. Reporter: Both boys just 10 years old. It was December 2014. Daniel and Aden were putting the finishing touches on their favorite winter tradition, Christmas lights. We've got Christmas trees, mini Christmas trees, a big one in my bedroom. But there's a twist. What is that? We're jewish. Reporter: Our nation was erupting in protest and anger after the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police, which caused this little boy to ask big questions. Dad, what's going on in Ferguson. Do you talk about that? School? Do any of the kids ever say anything? Yeah, it's been brought up. Our teacher brought it up. You can say all police are this or all police are that, you know. They're our friends, and they work really hard to protect our community, but, you know, you have to be honest that there are problems. Certainly, when I was a boy, right, your parents, in my case my mom, you had the "Sex talk." But you also have the race talk. Do you ever have that here? No, we don't, unless something happens. Reporter: For Solomon Jones Jr., a popular Philadelphia radio host, the race talk has always been a running dialog with his son. If you get stopped by the police, even if you feel like they stopped you for no reason. Like harassing. Like harassing you. Just be polite, get out of the situation so you can come home. And then we can file charges against them later. Reporter: Statistically speaking, black men are two and a half times more likely to be killed by police than whites. You saw what happened with Eric Garner. When that happened, how did it make you feel? Made me feel sad. Why do you think that that happened to Eric Garner? Because the policeman hated, like African-Americans. Do you really think that's why he did that? Yeah. Reporter: Nearly two years later, in 2016, the Kays and joneses welcomed us back. The boys were getting bigger, but so were the country's problems. This time the names in the headlines why Alton sterling and philando Castile, shot dead by police one day apart, their deaths impacted both boys very differently. I haven't seen the videos, but I've heard about the shootings. Did you see the video of the man who died in Louisiana? Yes. The man who died? Yes. How did that hit you? Pretty hard. It was sad to think about, what if that happened to my dad? Woo! Reporter: Today, in the wake of George Floyd's death, Solomon III is still asking that same question. I'm worried for my friends, too. When they get stopped, if they get stopped, I hope they don't get hurt. Reporter: He's now 15, his age marked by budding facial hair and a deeper voice. I listen to my dad more, my mom. Reporter: Aden is now 16. His navety is gone as well. I was looking back at the previous times that we were on here and I saw myself as more of a happy sort of, you know, just kind of giggly but not really understanding what was going on. As I've gotten older, I've become much more aware of what's going on. Reporter: These two families, all good people, see the exact same events through very different lenses. Have either of you watched the George Floyd tape? Absolutely, repeatedly. That video was so jarring that I needed to see it. I needed to remember it. I definitely made a point to familiarize myself with it. Reporter: From your perspective, what's so different about the George Floyd incident from all the other videotapes of lethal encounters? The officer on top of him, and just looking with his hands in his pockets. There didn't seem to be any compassion for what was happening. Reporter: Have y'all seen the video? Yes. I've seen parts of it. It's hard for me to watch nine minutes of a person dying. It hurts to see a black man like me have somebody's knee on their neck for nine minutes. Reporter: Have you ever seen yourself, under the officer's knee? I haven't, I definitely haven't, I, I mean, I've never thought of it like that, and I, I, because I feel that what happened there was just so racially-fueled. Reporter: Have you guys been to a rally? I work in the health care field, and we're very concerned with covid and bringing it back to my work. I would like to do it, it's just right now the obligation is elsewhere. I've led a protest around racism and policing. We will not have racist police patrolling our streets. I think that when the moment calls for it, you have to step up and to what you have to do for your community. Reporter: I understand as we talk about race and policing and violence, there was a moment that touched you all in a very personal way. My friend got shot and killed in south Philadelphia. He got into, like an argument with somebody. And the said person pulled out a firearm. It hurt, but it scared me into action. We started an organization called man up phl. When I went to the funeral and this little boy was in the casket in his school uniform, I'm looking at my son. Reporter: Aden is a good kid. He's a good kid, and he's a white kid. Reporter: Do you think that gives him any advantage over the young man we talked to, Solomon III, who is also a good kid, but he's a black kid. Yeah, yeah, I do. Reporter: How does that truth hit your heart? It breaks my heart. Reporter: Both fathers and sons are aware of difficult truths, but how they respond to them is strikingly different. A phrase that you all said about where this moment has placed you. And the phrase was, willing to listen. When I talked to the Solomons, theirs was scared into action. Just processing that internally is that's crazy. All we're doing is listening. Reporter: Listening is a start, but the bridge to mending America's racial divide will take more from all sides. It isn't enough to pray. Believers must also move their feet. I want to find some way to support, to change this a little faster, to speed up this process so I can see it in my lifetime. Reporter: Your dad and I, in our lifetime, we thought this was dealt with, but your generation is burdened with the same thing. The people before my generation did everything they could to fight it, and I feel like it's our responsibility to carry it on.
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