#RealTalk: As a young black man in America (even as educated one who grew up in the suburbs) I have been conditioned to feel a twinge of fear and apprehension whenever approached by the police. There is an immediate nervousness that takes over you. You begin to counsel yourself as the police officer approaches the car:
- “Freeze. Don’t make any sudden movements.”
- “Keep your hands high on the steering wheel.”
- “Look forward, don’t appear too shifty.”
- “What did I do?”
- “What didn’t I do?”
- “Take your hat off/turn it around, don’t look too thuggish.”
- “Turn your music down; change the station if it’s got too much bass.”
- “Only reach for your wallet when asked. Make it clear that you are complying with his request for identification, not reaching for a weapon.”
- “When showing him your license, purposely slide your Yale ID up in your wallet so that he can see it and know that you are “safe””
I don’t expect everyone to identify or understand that feeling, but I’m sure that some of you do. We try to avoid every misunderstanding in the midst of driving/walking/playing/chillin’ while black.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done to improve relations between law enforcement and people of color. Not every officer is bad or racist; conversely, not every person who expresses that they have been a target of racial profiling is over-reacting. There is a tension and all of us should partner together in creating communities and cities of safety and responsibility.
This video shows a simple moment where terror is replaced with togetherness. Believing that one day that guns would be exchanged for footballs. Thanks to all of the law enforcement officers who keep us safe through sound action and decision-making, while finding moments to build trust with those whom they are to protect and serve.
“The LORD will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.” – Isaiah 2:4