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Black Girls and the Talk? Policing, Parenting, and the Politics of Protection


Gonzalez, Shannon Malone (Online ahead of print). Black Girls and the Talk? Policing, Parenting, and the Politics of Protection. Social Problems.


Black girls are marginalized from mainstream discourses and familial discussions on policing, and little is known about how families conceptualize strategies for mitigating their risk of police sexual assault and harassment. Through 30 in-depth interviews with black mothers, this article explores how social class shapes protective care strategies for reducing girls’ risk of police contact and sexual violence. While the primary police talk emphasizes black boys’ vulnerability to lethal and physical violence, I identify two additional socialization practices, or “talks” for black girls: The respectability talk is a middle-class socialization strategy that avoids direct associations between black girls and police; this talk works to minimize risk through teaching black girls how to be “ladies” by embodying racialized gendered norms that constrain their behavior and autonomy. The predatory talk is a predominantly working-class socialization strategy which aims to equip black girls with an awareness of police sexual violence and the tools for avoiding sexual assault and harassment from officers when alone or at night. The article illustrates how protective care strategies for black girls are intertwined with social class and have divergent consequences for understanding agency and responsibility for police sexual violence.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published

Online ahead of print

Journal Title

Social Problems


Gonzalez, Shannon Malone

Article Type



United States of America