Black Lives Matter is not a racist movement. Black Lives Matter is not instructing people to kill police officers. Black Lives Matter is simply that – a movement to let the majority know that a Black life is worth something. That we are mothers and fathers….sons and daughters….that we mean something and matter to somebody. And that should matter to everybody.
Tonight, I was driving home from a Komen Dallas Race Committee meeting. I’d picked my daughter up from the after-hours childcare facility that was close to where the meeting had been convened. We went next door to Paciugo’s for gelato. McK (my daughter) got a wild berries and chocolate sorbet mix; I had the Turtle cheesecake and salted caramel. Just like most 6 year-olds, her face got really messy. It was both endearing and bothersome because I didn’t have any more napkins. After finding a napkin in my purse, and cleaning her up we were on our way. It was 9 p.m.–way past her bedtime, so I wasn’t surprised when she quickly fell asleep after we headed home. I was thinking ‘it must be nice to have someone else drive so you can fall asleep’.
Soon, I was on George Bush Tollway when I noticed a police officer pull up behind me in my rear-view mirror. I wasn’t speeding and I know my inspection/registration stickers were up to date, so I had nothing to worry about. Which is why I cannot explain why I was in such a quiet panic (if there is such a thing). I can’t say that I have ever been that freaked out having a police car right behind me. I was scoping out the exits because I just knew those blue lights were gonna come on and I was going to hear sirens. And I didn’t know what I was going to do or what kind of police officer I was going to encounter.
Would he be a good cop? Would he be a bad cop? Would he be black or white? Would that even matter? Would he still be reeling from last Thursday’s ambush of his five brethren in Dallas and looking for retribution or revenge? Would I know what to do to survive being stopped? Would my daughter wake up in the back seat terrified? Would I keep my hands on the steering wheel or would I instinctively go to my very large purse to retrieve my ID? I keep my insurance card in my glove compartment. Would I attempt to open it? Would I have to verbally list out every action I needed to take “Sir, I am going to go in my purse and pull out my drivers’ license. I do not have a weapon…” Would I have to put my hands up? Would I be shot putting my hands up…or reaching for my ID…in front my of my child? Would the officer really fire into my car with a child present? I knew that I would have to exercise EXTREME caution and be overly cooperative to make it home.
Thankfully after what seemed like forever (but probably was actually only a few minutes), the police officer decided I was driving too slow and went around me. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. And then I felt weird for feeling weird. Why did I immediately panic and think about not making it home? Why was I scared for my child?
I think because in that moment, when the police officer got behind me, I remembered the video that Diamond Reynolds recorded to Facebook. In it, her dying fiance’ had been shot 4 or 5 times by a police officer who still held a gun on him as he lay mortally wounded and bleeding. In the backseat was Ms. Reynolds’ daughter, 4, who witnessed the shooting. I cannot even begin to imagine. If that could happen in Minneapolis, it could definitely happen here in a Dallas suburb, especially after those 5 police officers were slaughtered and 7 more were injured last week by a crazed gunman seeking retribution in the most recent cases of police brutality that ended in the murders of two Black men.
It is very sad that I, along with my Black brothers and sisters, have to fear for our very lives during a routine traffic stop. My white brothers and sisters don’t have that fear. We shouldn’t have to be scared when we are pulled over or have interactions with those that are to serve and protect. Unfortunately, some not so nice people with preconceived notions and prejudices wear that badge, and those are the ones we hope we don’t encounter before they are weeded out or retrained or prosecuted for murdering others. Until that training happens and there are consequences for police officers using deadly force against us without cause, Black Lives Matter will have to remain our battle cry. Because the hope is that if we say it enough…maybe everyone else will get the message too.
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