FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — LaToya Dixon, a mother of three from Lake Worth, Fla., has noticed a change in her children since George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis last month.


They're usually upbeat, but now they keep their heads down. They seem nervous. They are watching the news and getting depressed.


"I am paying attention to their silent language," said Dixon, 45, a Delray Beach school principal whose kids are 14, 17 and 20. "They are forcing me to have conversations I didn't want to have."


For Dixon and other parents — African American, Caribbean, Hispanic and other racial minorities — the conversations concern The Rules, a list of actions to take when stopped by the police. Each family has its own, developed through lifetimes of trauma connected to racism, fear and daily injustices based on skin color.


Michelle Garces of Hialeah has been adding to her list since Floyd was killed. A few days after his death, she went over The New Rules with her son, Julian, 22, who has an African-American father and a Hispanic mother.


Besides being polite and asking the officer to call his supervisor, Garces now wants her son to pull his car over to a populated area, such as a gas station or a shopping center, and send her his location through his phone. She also wants him to activate his phone camera.


Garces, who works as a nanny in Miami, said she wants the phone camera on for documentation in case her son gets hurt.


"He usually says I'm overprotective, I'm exaggerating," said Garces, 47. "But right now, he's really upset. The older he's getting, he's starting to see the world as it is."


Floyd's death under a police officer's knee, revealed in excruciating detail by a phone camera recording, is forcing difficult conversations in households across America.


In African-American and Latino households, parents have been leading these discussions for years. They begin the dialogues when their children are little and escalate the seriousness of the heart-to-hearts as the kids enter adolescence and adulthood. It's an effort to prepare them for the difficulties that lie ahead as they pursue education and careers and come into contact with people throughout their day who may have little tolerance for different skin colors.


It's impossible to shield them, said Santia Barr, an African-American mother of two from Coral Springs. Barr and her husband, Mark Sr., decided to raise their children, Mark Jr., 24, and Zy'Aire, 15, in a suburb considered safe. Mark Jr. graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, a private Catholic school in Fort Lauderdale, and Zy'Aire goes there now. Mark Jr. graduated from the University of Cincinnati.


This pedigree doesn't matter when it comes to racism and police stops, said their mother, an insurance agent. Barr has a list of precautions for the kids when they're out of the house, including staying with relatives in Fort Lauderdale overnight rather than coming home late and risking a police encounter.


"Despite growing up in a two-parent household and going to private schools, we still have to have that talk," Barr said. "It's something you have to instill in them. They know if I am talking in this tone or have this look, they have to pay attention."


Barr's son, Mark Jr., said his parents sounded "like a tape recorder, year after year." But as he gets older, he said he understands their nervousness about his whereabouts.


"I'm 24, and my mom is still on me when I leave the house. 'Do you have your paperwork?' 'Keep both hands on the wheel and don't make any sudden movements if you get stopped.' "


Mark Barr said Broward law enforcement agencies have pulled him over about half a dozen times in the past two or three years. He said he has been asked questions that are clearly answered on his registration, such as who owns his car.


"My attitude in those situations is, 'Let's get this over with, I just want to get home,' " he said. George Floyd's death "wasn't a shock for our community. Now you guys see what is really going on."


Parents of minority children want their kids to respect the police even though the kids fear them, said Wayne Barton, a retired African-American police officer who runs the Wayne Barton Study Center, an academic and recreational center focused on minorities in Boca Raton.


"They were already scared, but the George Floyd incident has taken it to another level," Barton said.


Despite the recurring incidents, Barton said his advice to his charges, including 10 grandchildren, remains the same: Be deferential, even if the police are not courteous to you.


"I talk to them every day about this," he said.


The details of these discussions will be molded by the life experiences of the adults, who may have had numerous confrontations with the police or few, said Ronald Corbin, an African-American social worker and a vice president of mental health services at Ruth and Norman Rales Jewish Family Services in West Boca.


"There's a rule of thumb that the kids should be cautious, but the conversations depend on the viewpoint of the parents," he said. "The topic may be the same, but the perspective may be different."


Gustavo Flores of Deerfield Beach finds himself agonizing over the future for his African-American daughters, 15-year-old twins whom he and his ex-wife adopted when they were a month old.


His daughters have seen him get pulled over twice by police as they sat in the back seat, and he made the stops into teachable moments. Flores, 48, who is of Ecuadorean descent, made sure they noticed that he made clear to the officer he was reaching for his vehicle registration and not a weapon.


"There is a real potential for them to be hurt," said Flores, an advertising agency art director. "I want to prepare them, but I don't want to harden them."


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