Tina Knowles-Lawson on Telling Teen Grandson What to Do During a Police Stop as a Black Man

Beyoncé’s mom is sharing her concerns for her eldest grandchild, Solange’s son Daniel Smith Jr.

Tina Knowles-Lawson
Photo: Bruce Gifford/FilmMagic

Beyoncé's mother Tina Knowles-Lawson is sharing the fears that she has for her grandsons.

While the Texan may be mom to one of the most famous people on the planet, that doesn't mean she's immune to the concerns shared by millions of Black women today.

It's the fear that the Black men in her family may be profiled as threatening when they're out in public or stopped by police.

"I have two Black grandsons, and one of them is 17 and 6'2"," Knowles-Lawson, 68, tells PEOPLE. "It's so difficult, but I had to have that hard conversation with him. That, if you are stopped by the police, to put your hands on the steering wheel. Don't make sudden moves.

"[It's] the usual conversation that every Black mother and every Black grandmother has to have."

The teen that Knowles-Lawson is referring to is Daniel Smith Jr., her daughter Solange's only child. The philanthropist's other grandson is Sir, the 4-year-old son of Beyoncé and JAY-Z. (The rapper and singer have two other children together, daughters Blue Ivy, 10, and Rumi, 4.)

Beyonce, Blue Ivy Carter, and Tina Knowles
Beyoncé, Blue Ivy Carter, and Tina Knowles-Lawson. Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Lovingly known to friends, family, and fans alike as Miss Tina, Knowles-Lawson is now also the executive producer of Profiled: The Black Man. The four-part docuseries premieres on Discovery+ on Feb. 12 and it seeks to debunk common negative myths about Black men.

One of those stereotypes — that Black men are dangerous — the docuseries argues, could prove deadly.

"I have a stepson that's 26," says Knowles-Lawson who is married to actor Richard Lawson. "He will leave here, and I'll be like, 'Call me when you get home.' Because I just live in fear all the time that the police are going to stop them and stereotype them, and things can escalate so quickly."

Knowles-Lawson with her husband, actor Richard Lawson. Tiffany Rose/Getty

Knowles-Lawson's comments come in the wake of a series of high-profile cases of Black men dying after being stopped by police. The most well-known in recent years is the May 2020 killing of George Floyd, which sparked a movement after video footage showed him lying on the ground, handcuffed, pleading for his life while former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on him for more than nine minutes.

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She says, "What I keep hearing in the news every day is, 'Oh, we were afraid for our lives.' Even if someone is handcuffed, they're afraid for their lives. Even if they're behind the wheel of a car, with nothing in their hands, they feel threatened."

Knowles-Lawson says she's seen people react in fear to Black men in other ways. "How many times do our men walk into an elevator and people hold onto their purse?" she says. "I've witnessed it so many times growing up in the South. Or you pass by somebody's car, and they lock the door.

"That's their right to do, but it's fear. It's all this fear that's out there."

profiled the black man
Knowles-Lawson is the executive producer of a new four-part Discovery+ docuseries debunking popular myths about Black men. Discovery+

Knowles-Lawson hopes that Profiled: The Black Man, which also highlights Black people thriving and being forces for good, will help to dispel those myths.

"I couldn't be more proud of this project," she says, "because that is what it's all about – debunking the stereotypes and showing Black men in a positive light."

Profiled: The Black Man premieres on Discovery+ on Feb. 12.

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