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It was not until perhaps the fourth or fifth draft of my forthcoming book, Between The World And Me, that it took the form of a letter. The reason for the change was literary—without any sense of who it was meant to address. Before then I had a somewhat messy vaguely linear blob of an essay. But once I angled it to my son, once I knew my audience, the train began to run on the track.

I made this decision with some hesitation. "The Talk”—a conversation between black parents and their children about, but not limited to, the dangers of police brutality—has begun to ooze with sentiment and melodrama. I find myself, now, shuddering at the phrase. And yet there is something real there, something of value. My hope was to take the concept of "The Talk" and strip it of sentiment, make it visceral, ground it in the physical lives of black people.

Now, with a published excerpt, seems like a good time to move from a talk to a conversation. We would like to hear your stories, your experiences with racism and its physical consequences. Over the next week, I will be in dialogue, offering my own thoughts and reactions to these experiences. Please send your stories to hello@theatlantic.com. And check back as the week goes on and the conversation evolves.

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