Driving While Black

Last week I drove  from the Midwest to the East Coast and even though I tried to force my mind not to, I kept thinking about the worst case scenario that could happen on this 9 hour daunting road trip. Sure, a flat tire or overheating the engine would be terrible and equally unexpected but nowadays and in particular in the last several years, I along with other African American motorists have much more to worry about than simply car maintenance.

Some of the most vile and flagrant abuses of police power and authority have occured as a result of what is infamously referred to as “driving while black.” Though I’ve made this drive from Indiana to North Carolina several times now, I cannot pretend that the anxiety is not there, that the fear is not there, and that regardless if I use the correct turn signals, wear a seatbelt, and maintain the speed limit - I can still be pulled over and murdered, without any consequence to my Grim Reaper.

It reminds me often of a booklet I once heard about that black folks in the early 1900s would use in order to safely travel and it was full of safehouses, roads, diners, hotels and other strategies to keep us safe and away from those who looked to cause us harm. And they wonder why we don’t stand for their anthem.