Today, while having a conversation with some millennials, I found my mind drifting. Not because I wasn’t interested in what they were saying. Quite the contrary. The conversation was about being pulled over by the police. There was a mix of people in the conversation, some black, some white, some gay and some straight. What intrigued me was the focus of the conversation. While they all had examples of being pulled over and even given tickets, none of them expressed fear.
Driving While Black
I drifted off during some of the conversation because I wondered what it must be like to get pulled over and legitimately only be concerned about the ticket I might receive. Not to be worried about possibly losing my life reaching for my license and registration. It dawned on me that my fear was not their fear. Even though some of them were black, they had been free of the stereotype that plagues so many of our inner-city youth. Free of the presumption of guilt before innocence. A beautiful bliss to say the least.
Back to Reality
I snapped back into the conversation. Only with my ears though. In my head, I’d thought about joking about how scary it actually is to be pulled over by the police. I decided against it and remained silent. Because even though I would have said it jokingly, it is no joking matter. My heart races when the police pull behind me. No drugs, no alcohol, no illegal firearms. Just a black man with a college degree, several published books and a baseball hat tipped to the side that says “Pardon My Eastside.” Of course the latter would be the image that presumed my guilt. The image that polarizes me and countless other black men and women who have lost their lives at the hands of police who have villainized us so inherently in their mind. So, for that brief moment I relaxed in the harmony of comical police stops and random speeding tickets. Forgetting, just for a moment, the brutality of an America who has turned her sight away from me so often that I wonder if I truly belong. Catch ya’ on the FLIPSIDE.