New research reveals Black mothers discuss police brutality with sons but not daughters

March 21, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                 

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Barret Katuna, Sociologists for Women in Society, (860) 989-5651,

Research: New research reveals Black mothers discuss police brutality with their sons in order to keep them safe. But their daughters? Not so much.

New article from Gender & Society that highlights the need to recognize and combat police violence against Black women and girls

Shannon Malone Gonzalez, a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at The University of Texas, interviewed 30 Black mothers to investigate how they address their children’s vulnerability due to race and gender in “police talk.”

Her findings show that during this talk, mothers focus on “making it home,” which ignores girls’ experiences and the very real threat of police violence against Black women and girls, while focusing on Black boys as the main targets of police.

These and other observations are published in her upcoming article, “Making It Home: An Intersectional Analysis of the Police Talk.” Shannon Malone Gonzalez “investigate(s) how Black families conceive of children’s gendered racial vulnerability to police violence, paying specific attention to girls.”

Why This Research Matters to The Public:

During the past few years, police violence, specifically towards Black men and boys, has been given more attention. With the use of social media, videos and knowledge of such violence often goes viral very fast.  Although police violence is not a new issue, recent events have led families to work on teaching Black men how to reduce their risks of getting any sort of attention from police which could potentially lead to events of police violence.

However, girls are overlooked during conversations about police violence that are often focused on Black men and boys. That means women and girls receive far less attention in media and even research. Black women and girls are often subjected to sexual assault, physical assault, verbal harassment and sexual violence from police officers.

This lack of attention given to the police violence that Black women and girls face led way to a new campaign: “#SayHerName, a campaign that calls for an end to the silence surrounding the victimization of Black women and girls by police.”

Explaining the “Making it Home Conversation” and Why It Leaves Girls Out

When Black mothers decide that it is time to have the talk regarding “making it home,” it goes beyond the regular conversation that parents tend to have with their children about “do not talk to strangers” or “do not get into anyone’s car.” But rather the “making it home” conversation is how Black mothers teach Black youth strategies on how to behave to ensure that they stay alive should they ever encounter the police. It is important to note that such strategies are not developed the same for Black boys versus Black girls. Patricia, a mother with one daughter, reflected on the police talk she received on the margins of her brother’s talk:

Shannon: Did [your parents] have the same conversation with you as they did with your brother?

Patricia: I mean I was around for the conversation. But it was always much more [short pause] all of those conversations, were just much stronger when directed towards him than they were towards me.”

The focus of the “police talk” and the “making it home framework” is often Black boys. Mothers teach Black boys to go against the stereotypes of their race and gender. During this talk, mothers will construct Black boys as the primary targets of police violence and Black girls as the collateral targets of police officers.

Malone Gonzalez’s article will appear in the June 2019 issue of Gender & Society.

Further information

Gender & Society is a peer-reviewed journal, focused on the study of gender. It is the official journal of Sociologists for Women in Society, and was founded in 1987 as an outlet for feminist social science. Currently, it is a top-ranked journal in both sociology and gender studies. Gender & Society, a journal of SAGE Publications, publishes less than seven percent of all papers submitted to it. For additional commentary, you can also read the Gender & Societyblog and follow the journal on Twitter: @Gend_Soc.

Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS) was founded in 1971 to improve women’s lives through advancing and supporting feminist sociological research, activism and scholars. SWS is a nonprofit, scientific and educational organization with more than 700 members worldwide. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @socwomen and