All of my anger today is for cops who murder Black people and evil fucks who murder cops. In the wake of this, as every, police shooting, we remember the others. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. #blacklivesmatter
But some of the stories and posts I’m seeing brought to mind a different hashtag:
The ability to take a simple drive and get to your destination at about the time Google Maps says you will, that is, without being randomly stopped, suspected, delayed, and generally fucked with simply because you are (1) Black and (2) in a car.
Last night, a professional woman who sits on the board of our non-profit recounted this story in a Facebook comment:
I was pulled over right outside Denver Botanic Gardens by a cop who said I “looked like I was trying too hard to get away from him” after leaving the drive-thru at Wendy’s. I had on a really menacing business suit.
Ed Garnes — who I don’t know but whose post was shared enough times that I got to read it — recounts this incident:
Black Death is a sport. This is a fact with history on it’s side. When the police are involved my “fancy” education, two parent household upbringing, and clean criminal record will not save me. This year alone I have been followed by police over 10 times. I have paid over 400 dollars in tickets that were not warranted. This past weekend I was followed for 5 miles by an officer in Douglasville. Luckily, I was able to find a “safe area” with people as the officer pulled up beside my car and stared me down. I called a friend who then escorted me back to the highway so I could return to the south side. A few months ago, someone called the police on me for merely retrieving items from my vehicle at the univ of Tennessee, a campus where I work and attend school. My 4.0 gpa meant nothing. In Knoxville the past 3 weeks, someone has spit in my food at a local eatery and spit on my car leaving tangible evidence of hate. This is my reality as a Black man dodging death like some super hero who never knows if this minute is my last. If I die today, y’all better fight for me. Fuck a hashtag.
Same with this astonishing list from John Fleming:
Have you ever:
1) Been accused of being a drug dealer in a neighborhood b/c you’re driving a nice car and get racial profiled?
2) Been stopped and detained in a parking garage in downtown Austin by EIGHT state troopers and be accused of being an alleged rapist (who they then said was a white red head male after they finally let me go) from Georgetown, TX?
3)Had a gun drawn on you b/c you went to reach for your WALLET for a traffic stop?
4) Lived your entire life wondering how from when I was a little boy until this very post how your cousin, who was a State Marshall in Texas, (whom you looked up to and admired) was found dead in his East Texas home and his death was never solved?
5) Been WALKING from your office after a day’s work to the parking garage and get stopped by a UTPD Police officer and asked for your ID without cause at the Blanton Parking Garage b/c someone reported that an African American male was seen strung out on drugs selling drugs in the garage? I was held and detained for approximately 30 mins while they ran my license with UTPD, APD, State and Nation.
6) Been pulled over traveling south on I-35 in Oklahoma just a few miles before crossing back into Texas and have a Oklahoma State Trooper pull you over for TRAVELING 60 in a 70mph area for speeding, get asked to step out of your car while your sister and her 3 daughters are in the car and be escorted back to the front seat of the Troopers K-9 Ford Expedition with a barking vigilant German Shepard in the back seat as you are interrogated and then released for a warning when he learns that your cousin is STATE SENATOR FOR THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA?
All of the above are true and they HAPPENED TO ME!
It’s a privilege to stay alive and it’s another privilege to get to your fucking destination without having to pull over and have a discussion about the way you drove out of the Wendy’s drive thru, or what sort of car you’re driving, or the fact that no, except for skin color, you do not look like the robber/rapist/drug dealer they are looking for, or your broken tail-light, or your expired plates. I’ve been driving on expired plates since February, it was recently pointed out to me BY A FRIEND, NOT BY A COP.
I have been pulled over approximately five times in my life. All but one of them were for my admitted habit of driving 10-25 mph over the speed limit. In other words: righteous stops, for which I got tickets and points. The other was for making a right turn without signaling. Suburban Minnesota. Late at night. Officer shined the flashlight in my eyes. I kept my hands on the wheel. I got a warning not to do that again and was sent on my way.
I think this is some of what Justice Sotomayor was talking about when she use the term “civil death.”
We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are “isolated.” They are the canaries in
the coal mine
whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. See L. Guinier & G. Torres, The Miner’s Canary 274–283 (2002). They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.
Utah v. Strieff, No. 14-1373, 2016 WL 3369419, at *16 (U.S. June 20, 2016) (Sotomayor, J., dissenting).
#whiteprivilegeisreal. So is #googlemapsprivilege.