OWN

Holly Robinson Peete Has The Tough Discussion All Black Parents Have With Their Sons

"We have to keep it real with him on a daily basis in order to keep him safe."

When teenagers leave the house, their mothers often worry. Just ask Holly Robinson Peete.

Holly's son RJ is 18 years old and was diagnosed with autism at age 3. While Holly and her husband, Rodney, deal with certain concerns as parents of a child on the spectrum, they also grapple with the fears they have as parents raising an African-American teenage male in today's society.

Those fears came to life on the Peete's new television series when RJ was a few hours late arriving back home after an outing. When RJ returned, Holly and Rodney took the opportunity to quiz their son over what he should -- and shouldn't -- do in an interaction with police.

"What would happen if the cops pulled you over and they said, 'Put your hands up!'" Holly asks.

"I do everything. I say, 'Yes, sir. No, sir,'" RJ responds.

"And what would happen if you got scared?" Holly pushes. "What would you do?" 

"I would call my mommy," RJ says.

"No," Holly says quickly. "Because then you'd have to reach into your pocket and get your phone. And that would be a problem because...?"

"They will shoot you?" RJ guesses.

Holly pauses. "It's a little more complicated than that," she says. 

Without getting into a complex discussion with the teen about race, Rodney tries to help RJ understand why it's important for him to be so vigilant.

"Unfortunately, a lot of it has to do with the color of your skin," Rodney says. "You have to be extra careful. You do not reach into your pockets, you do not make any sudden movements. Everything you do has to be slow."

"You have to do everything they say," Holly adds emphatically. "Comply -- let me hear you say it."

"Comply," RJ repeats.

As much as she wishes the discussion wasn't necessary, Holly says it's their duty as parents to provide their son with this essential information.

"I wish we didn't have to have these conversations with him, but we have to have them -- with all of our sons, with all of our kids," Holly says. "With RJ, there's an innocence about him we don't want to see destroyed, but we have to keep it real with him on a daily basis in order to keep him safe."

"For Peete's Sake" airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.

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