For you are prisoners of war, in an enemy's country - of a
war, too, that is unrivalled for its injustice, cruelty, meanness...
Frederick Douglass (1850)
For millions of people, a daily drive, with no specific destination
in mind, is a form of relaxation and enjoyment. It evokes little worry,
other than the occasional pique over the cost of gas.
For most, this is a practice that is a harmless, pleasant diversion.
For many Black folks, however, this is a daily practice that unsettles the
nerves, that upsets the stomach, and sounds the alarm of danger. For they
know that they can be subjected to hassle, harassment, humiliation, harm and
insult for daring to violate the unwritten law of DWB (or Driving While
Black). It matters not what class, what complexion, or what status the
driver, for being Black is enough.
Several weeks ago, a well-to-do couple was driving through
Montgomery County in Maryland. Their car was stopped, and eight police
cars, as well as at least 16 armed cops surrounded them. High-intensity
spot lights beamed upon them and over a dozen pistols and shotguns were
aimed at them. They were thus ordered to exit the car, and to walk
backwards some 40 feet or so, with their hands on their heads. Then, the
two were handcuffed.
Several moments later, the cops removed the husband's
identification, and then they learned of their mistake.
The two were Bob Nash and Janis Kearney, who both worked in
high-level jobs at the White House. Nash is director of the Office of
presidential Personnel, and his wife is a Special Assistant to the
President. Nash, in a recently published letter, wrote that he and his wife
were "traumatized," "humiliated and afraid for our lives."
The couple, who described themselves as strong supporters of
law enforcement, and "law-abiding citizens," experienced DWB, first-hand.
It didn't matter that they were, presumably, well-educated, well-connected,
well-groomed or had a friend and boss in the Oval Office. It didn't matter
that their car was different in color from the suspect vehicle! It mattered
that they were Black-period. If the President of the United States couldn't
even protect them-what about you?