You know that ignoramus we as black people come across in our communities occasionally? You know the one. Super black guy, I'm-way-blacker-than-you guy, not too many brain cells. That guy that always looks for an opening to jump up and say "You're acting like slaves" or "Too many of us have that slave mentality."
Got a picture in your head of that guy or gal?
I'm not that person. I really don't want to come off as that person. But it occurs to me that most of us really have been taught to act like slaves during a traffic stop.
Let me give you a good visual example of actual slave behavior:
trigger warning: violence, rape
There's a scene in "12 Years A Slave," after Solomon has moved from the "genteel, calm" slave master (ha-ha) and has gone to work for the rabid dog slave master.
In one scene rabid dog master is angry, probably looking for Patsy, the black woman he routinely rapes. Rabid dog master walks into the yard screaming. And when he can't find Patsy, he stops and rests, leans on this random black woman. This black woman? She doesn't move. She tries, semi-successfully not to twitch. She is frightened of his anger and is trying not to do anything to draw attention to herself or displease him. In another scene rabid dog slave master actually rests his while arm on a black man's head. This black male slave doesn't move or do anything to risk displeasure either.
Aren't these movie scenes pretty representative of how black parents teach black children, especially black boys, how to stay alive during a traffic stop with a white police officer?*
Black parents teach their children, especially their boys to put their hands on the steering wheel and not move. Black parent teach black kids learning to drive to ask the police officer if they can reach for their wallet. And Black parents sure as hell teach their kids not to talk back or demand rights or say anything displeasing.
When I first listened to Sandra Bland response to the police officer who was basically saying "get that expression off your face, who do you think you are n***er." I was horrified that she said anything all. The most I probably would have said after being given a ticket that the cop actually caused by tailgating me might have been, "Can I have my ticket please" in as neutral and military a fashion as I could manage---just as I've done before.
But Sandra was bold, so very bold, and in Texas yet. She answered the exact question she was asked and expressed fairly frank annoyance. And I really couldn't believe it the FIRST TIME I watched the video.
Then, I started examining my own response.
I was raised to believe that the white police officer is looking for a reason to kill you. I still believe that too many of them are. And acquiescing to bullying trains the bully to be more aggressive. I've known that since I was in grade school. So I think it's time to apply THAT training, bully response training, instead of slave response training to police officers.
It is 2015, after all. TWO-THOUSAND-FREAKING-FIFTEEN. Slavery is over. Slavery Part 2, official and unofficial Jim Crow has been over decades now too
Sandra Bland, Sam DuBose, and the man in the video below are acting APPROPRIATELY. I don't mean they are acting in a way that's "allowable." I mean they are probably acting as they SHOULD.
We still have to be careful. I don't even know that I would teach my teenagers different than I was taught. But at 30, 40, or 50 years old maybe we should be taking some chances to progress the race past this point where we've been stuck for decades.
It's time for *Driving While Black* to be over and done.
I'm thinking that a suggestion I heard recently might work toward this goal. If you're being stopped and 1) you know you weren't speeding 2) all your tags are up to date 3) and your lights are all working, then dial 911 if you're out on the street by yourself with no passersby in sight. Record the entire encounter.
Be polite. Give the officer the benefit of the doubt. But I think acting like a slave and letting them take our rights away from us at will is the same as training them that they own us once those flashing lights come on.
WE DO NOT BEGIN AS POLICE PROPERTY,
WE DO NOT BEGIN AS POLICE PROPERTY,
to be freed or detained based on some guy's mood or feeling.
We are not theirs
We have to find way to get white people to clean up the only version of racism that kills with regularity in this country. That is in THEIR lane.
* * * * *
Sam DuBose wasn't the first black man Ray Tensing "got into it with." See video in the link below.
This video in the link below gives a clear indication that Tensing (and most officers?) did not know when to "let it go" or what constitutes a "safety reason" for ordering someone out of their car.OFFICER RAY TENSING AT ANOTHER CONTENTIOUS TRAFFIC STOP OF TWO BLACK MEN.
See Demitrius Pace's response. He made Tensing call a supervisor. Good Interviewer here in video--> http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2015/08/01/previous-traffic-stop-footage-of-officer-ray-tensing-found-intv-newday.cnn
(* This pertains to any color/ethnicity police officer really. White supremacy and blue culture together should be assumed to have been swallowed by all of them until proven otherwise.)