Driving While Black: What it is and Why is it Important?

Excerpt from an article by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Almost every African-American or Latino can tell a story about being pulled over by the police for no apparent reason other than the color of his or her skin, especially if he or she happened to be driving in the "wrong place" at the "wrong time" or even driving the "wrong car." Victims of these racially motivated traffic stops rarely receive a traffic ticket or are found guilty of any violation of the law. It’s a practice called Driving While Black and it is emerging as a seminal civil rights issue. “O.J. Simpson prosecutor Christopher Darden has been pulled over many times. Actors Wesley Snipes and Blair Underwood and athletes Joe Morgan and Al Joyner have also been stopped for ‘DWB.’

“Darden, now a Law Professor at Southwestern University, spoke of being stopped on countless occasions since the age of 16. "After each of these stops, I would ask myself, 'Why? Why was I stopped?' After each of these stops, I reflected on the speed and manner in which I drove my vehicle. 'Was I speeding? No. Was I following too closely the vehicle in front of me? No. An unsafe lane change, perhaps? No. Couldn't be.' Had that been the case, the officer would surely have written me a ticket. Most often, there was no 'good' reason for stopping me. Only the wrong reason. I was the wrong color."

For the complete story, click here.

In my opinion, America is, as it has been since its birth, in a state of perpetual, cultural racism. As much as we hope and attempt to be otherwise, racism is still the norm and not the exception.

You don’t have to be black to believe that black lives matter, any more than you have to be Muslim to believe Muslim lives matter. “Black Lives Matter” does not identify or proclaim the virtues or wrongdoings of any specific social identity. It is an outcry for equal rights – for all people.

There is no guarantee, no straightforward way to relegate racism to the pages of history; we must change the way we feel, think, what we say, and what we do.

We must continue to destroy perceptions that people of color are, somehow, inferior or dangerous. We must conduct ourselves as, and raise our children to be, responsible citizens who won’t tolerate racism and bigotry. Equal rights for black individuals was first denied by our constitution, gradually became a worthy goal and, finally, thanks to the work of countless civil rights advocates, became the law of the land. Until we embrace our cultural and religious differences, America will never truly be the land of the free.

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