I remember two distinct times that my dad got pulled over with me in the car. One was in our city, another was in a local suburb, but I remember him becoming infuriated when he was asked the following questions:
– Where are you going?
– Why are you over here (that one was in the suburb)?
No, this wasn’t a legal sundown town from the ’40s, it was the late ’80s. From what I remember, my dad’s response was, “I’m a grown man, I have the right to go where ever I want.” I never remember him getting a ticket for anything, and still have no idea why we had to get out of the car.
Black parents often speak of having “The Talk” with their young sons (or even daughters). That talk may explain how to act when the police are near you, how to act when in a store so security doesn’t think you’re stealing and whatever other circumstances they may find themselves in where they may get that super-predator label. It’s that label that separates the conversation from the one every other people group has with their children. My wife and I have had these conversations with our children, and especially with my 15 year-old son, who at 5’10 and over 170 pounds, has the physique of a man despite his boyish looking face.
Listen to the story of Kris Banks, one of the gentlemen in the photo:
Perhaps you’ve seen the Facebook post from Leigh Anne Tuohy saying,
“We see what we want! It’s the gospel truth! These two were literally huddled over in a corner table nose to nose and the person with me said “I bet they are up to no good” well you know me… I walked over, told them to scoot over. After 10 seconds of dead silence I said so whats happening at this table? I get nothing.. I then explained it was my store and they should spill it… They showed me their phones and they were texting friends trying to scrape up $3.00 each for the high school basketball game! Well they left with smiles, money for popcorn and bus fare. We have to STOP judging people and assuming and pigeon holing people! Don’t judge a book by its cover or however you’d like to express the sentiment! Accept others and stoping seeing what you want to see!!!“
At first blush, many applauded the good deed that Leigh Anne had done, but others like Kris Bank’s teacher and mother questioned the incident. They looked deeper and seemed to question why someone, especially a private citizen, would be questioning the two gentlemen in the first place.
Now before you dismiss this as race-baiting, what happened in Sanford, Florida between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman? That young man reacted differently when confronted by a male (who was not a police officer), at night, because he looked suspicious. If I change any of those variables in this case, could the event have possibly ended up differently?
I’ll always remember my mom commenting on how many white parents never think about the hurt she feels when her son (me in that case) is rejected just because he’s black. Yet, she has always tried to treat their children just like anyone else regardless of their skin color. Personally, even if I give Tuohy the benefit of the doubt, I have to assume that she would never want someone approaching her daughter presupposing that she was “up to something”, especially if she was an honor student.
Sadly, perhaps these young men learned a lesson. Sometimes, you don’t have to be in a car. Sometimes you don’t have to be walking outside in a particular neighborhood dressed a certain way. Sometimes you may just be sitting there, and you may have to answer the 5W’s and 1H on call.
Do you think Banks was being exploited by Tuohy?
Did the two young men have a right to not answer Tuohy’s inquiry?
How would you have had your children respond?
How would you respond as a parent?
What talks have you had with your children?