Ron Funches on Raising a Mixed-Race Son With Autism: "It's Been a Concern of Mine For Many Years"

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Comedian Ron Funches is sharing how he's tried to protect his son from police altercations throughout his life. While chatting with longtime friend and late-night host Conan O'Brien, Ron discussed how he's spoken to his son who has autism about the police and how it's always been a concern of his. "It's one of the most motivating things in my life because of him being mixed race and having autism, and he doesn't follow directions as easily," Ron said. "He doesn't respond to directions as quickly as some people would like, and I was always concerned that if he was in an altercation with a police officer that that could mean the end of his life."

Ron's son is named Malcolm after Malcolm X, and though he's 17 years old, Ron said he tries to avoid having his son left alone. "We have a full-time nanny just to make sure that someone is with him," he said. "And it's not because he's not independent, he's very independent; it's a lot to do with my fear about what could happen with misunderstandings with others, especially people like the police or people with power."

"It's been a concern of mine for many years," Ron said, sharing that even when Malcolm was a little kid, he would have tantrums after being overwhelmed by different stimuli, and it would sometimes lead to neighbors calling the police. After having these experiences, Ron feels strongly about the need for health service professionals or individuals trained in childhood services to handle these situations, rather than police officers in uniform. "Especially with anyone with any type of mental diversity or disability, you don't want someone who's not familiar with that coming into that situation."

As Ron said, he's been focused on these issues for a long time — it's never too early to talk to your child about race and racial injustices. Check out Ron's conversation with Conan above, and bookmark this link if you're not sure how to navigate the discussion about race with your kids.