Friday, March 20, 2009
Driving While Black
One of the things that I have said during my Racism classes and various dialogue circles is that there is a reason why I try to be very careful when I drive around the city of Syracuse or any of its many neighboring towns. As person who is as brown as myself, I understand that I can be pulled over for any reason at all. It has been my experience that we tend to fit many different profiles and can be easily mistaken for anyone. Perhaps, I even look like the type of person who can look suspicious while I am driving.
It is not to say that racial profiling is just a problem within Central New York. I feel the same way driving everywhere I go. Truth be told, I have never been stopped when I am driving. So I can never been guilty of a DWB. However, I have been in a vehicle when a friend has been stopped. As, a matter of fact, I have several friends who have committed several DWBs.
To understand what it is like to be stopped here in CNY, you first need to understand that I live in a very lily white city when it come to the infrastructure and the law enforcement. I am generally surprised if I see a Black Police Officer. So, when someone like me gets pulled over, which is commonplace here, there is often a need for two police cars. Which, is a surprise to me. Growing up in NYC, when someone is pulled over, it is normally one car. Two cars generally mean that NYPD has been looking for you
So, getting back to being in the car when a friend commits the crime of driving while black, I am sure one can imagine how it may feel when you come home from picking up food and pulling into the driveway of the house you live...and seeing 2 police cars in the rear view mirror. While that happened more than 13 years ago, it still happened in Syracuse and still remember it vividly. Which has given me the reason to think twice before I go out and drive with my brown skin on.
I have been followed. I have been followed on campus by Public Safety. I didn't have on my official business attire on that day. But, I was in the car with a co-worker driving to one of our student centers. When my co-worker got out of the car (I was dropping him off), the officers must have recognized who he was and then proceed to move on with their day. So, when I tell people that racism still exists, I am not making this up.
Which brings me to the point of this who post today. My good friend Eddie that I went on that shopping trip with, committed his very first DWB last night. We went to Chili's last night and hung out for awhile. He lives in the village of Liverpool which is very upscale and white. So, on this way home he gets the CNY police treatment. He gets stopped...by 2 cars...and he gets 7 tickets. Don't adjust your screen saver...7 tickets! One for having his high beams on (it is mad dark..but ok), One for the SU parking decal hanging from the mirror, One for having his headphones on...(he as an iPhone), One for a small crack on his windshield, and I am not sure about the other 3 but I can guess (too black, too tall, and too southern).
Personally, I think that breaks a record of how many tickets you can get in one sitting. But, since I know the Liverpool Projects are really hopping on a Thursday Night, they have to make sure they keep the Negros in check.