Pacing is a major hassle isn’t it? 2 1/2 years into it and my wife and kids still need to be reminded of it. “Hey A, since Dad helped I fix the headlights on his car, we’ll have to wait for your next driving lesson until tomorrow.” Just an aside - why are the headlights on my 19-year-olds’ car so important?
It’s not pretty but it’s very simple. My two youngest kids were adopted from Haiti 16 years ago tomorrow. They are black, I am white. If, when I was 19, i was driving down the road with my windows down and sound system cranked, i might get a few grumpy looks but that would be it.
Do the names George Floyd and Trayvon Martin mean anything to you? George and Trayvon are two black men who died strictly because they were “Driving While Black.”
Now don’t go thinking, but wait, Trayvon was walking. The point is that both of them were hassled, argued with and eventually murdered and the only reason is because they were black.
Because of situations like this. Because of white people who think it’s okay to harass black men and if they get shot, oh well. Because of white people, white police who think it’s okay to kill someone by putting their entire body weight on their knee which is cutting off all oxygen to Geoge’s brain and eventually murdering him.
Because of people like that, because of murders like that, I have to have conversations about Driving While Black and the 'NO Hoodie" rule. Driving while black means that you don’t do anything that could give the cops an excuse to pull you over. You don’t speed. You don’t drive with a busted tail light. You have all of your headlights working. And if you do get pulled over, you move slowly and explain to the officer what you are going to do. “Sir, my license is in my coat which is in the back seat, i’m going to reach back there and get it, is that okay?” And then you do it slowly and carefully. I could go on and on about what it means to be DWB and i can never ever possibly do it. I was born with a privilege my kids will never have. And it hurts to say that.
My daughter said, ‘Dad, that’s not fair, it’s like we are getting punished for them being racist.’ Yes, I’m afraid that is true.
What’s the “no hoodie” rule? It’s basically a different version of the same thing. The only time you are allowed to wear your sweatshirt with the hood up, one of two things has to happen:
- You are outside and it is cold. Not “you are cold” but “it is cold”
- You are at home, either inside or outside of the house (unless of course, there is a major drug war going on, then stay inside.)
Why? As my son has said before, “Just cuz they say it, doesn’t mean i have to do it.” NO, you are right, you don’t have to. But the reality of life in this screwed up messed up world is that if you are inside and wearing a hooded sweatshirt and you’ve got music going on the headphones and it’s not cold and you aren’t outside, someone is going to look at you as a threat. They are going to follow you around the store, they are going to make sure someone is always watching you because they don’t trust you because all thugs dress that way.
It’s a sad world we live in. It’s sad that I have to tell my kids - including my 4 ft. 9 inch tall 18 year old that people in this world and people in our town are threatened by their existence and by their being part of the community.
And that’s what i’ve been spending a lot more of the writing time I can do - pushing back against the evil that has pushed racism so deeply into our world.
But the AVM world calls too - more to come and if you want to talk about either of them - let me know. Or go over to my blog at http://tomvanderwell.net and you can read more there.