Being black in America

On that one characteristic alone, being black in America, I can’t relate. I’ll never be able to because I’m white in America. But! with what has been broadcast across the country lately between law enforcement and communities of black people I can finally say that I understand, even if it is only slightly. The specific aspect I’d like to address is that of a black person on any typical day feeling singled out, “profiled”, and/or targeted for no good reason. To explain how this happened, I need to include my Nissan Versa.

It’s a beaut, Clark. A beaut.

I’ve had this Versa for about 10 years and she’s a real beaut. However, she’s taken a licking or two over the years, and most recently got into a scurfuffle with a Chrysler. Here’s the damaging footage (impact is 29 seconds in):

What you can’t see in the footage is that the Chrysler basically dismembered the front left side of the Versa. My bumper is detached but barely hanging on, the cracked headlight now points a few feet in front of the bumper, etc. It’s the headlight that taught me today’s lesson.

img_20170111_210044313Because it’s cracked, moisture got in and the bulb went out. So in the evenings, I’ve been driving around with one headlight. Not a problem, right? That’s what I thought, too, but then bam! Hello, class c misdemeanor! I’ve been stopped by the police 3 times this week. F your i, I wouldn’t drive at night, except that some days it’s required for a job I have. So as the sun sets I’m driving around nervous, eyes darting here and there, heart beating faster, strategically positioning myself in traffic, always wondering where a police car is and how I can get past them without being a bother. Then I think to myself, “So this is how it feels to be Odell Beckham after he scores a touchdown, no wait, this is how it sometimes feels to be black.”

In my case, the police are doing their job and I thank them for it. But sometimes (at least the stories reported in the news), the police are singling folks out without cause, not what their job is.

The nerves, heartbeat quickening, doubt, feeling targeted, now I know a little of what that’s like and quite frankly, if it were about my skin color and not just driving with one headlight at night, I’d never want to leave home. It’s not fun, it’s not fair, and if it doesn’t change, that’ll be a gigantic mistake.

If you’re curious about how it feels, disconnect one of your headlights and drive around a few nights with a single beam. It’s a rush!

-Out of the Wilderness

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