Sunday, April 1, 2012

DWB...Driving While Black......

Jamie's "baby," the El Co
DWB....."driving while black." Sounds crazy doesn't it? I thought so too when I first heard the expression. However, when Jamie and I started dating 20 years ago he shared stories with me about always getting pulled over for nothing. I said, "Why would you get pulled over for nothing?" "Because I am a black man," was his answer to me. I said, "Ya right!" We have all heard the stories, but I thought he was exaggerating.

Well, within a very short time I had my first DWB experience with him. We went through an intersection and all of the sudden police lights turned on behind us. Jamie said, "Here we go again." I looked at him and said, "Why are they pulling us over?" He said, "Hello, black man driving." I gave the police the benefit of the doubt and thought they made a mistake. They came over to the car and said, "You ran a red light." Jamie said, "No I didn't, the light just turned yellow when we were in the intersection." The cop proceeded to say, "No, you ran a red light." Then I looked at him and said, "No we didn't, it was yellow after we got in the intersection!" I was not happy at this point and Jamie of course was not surprised. This went back and forth for a bit until he finally let us go with a verbal warning. Jamie said if I wasn't in the car it would have gone very differently. That was my first experience with DWB and there unfortunately have been many since then.

One incident happened just blocks from our house. Jamie was coming home after a co-workers get together. Ironically, he jokingly told his co-workers he should get home before dark otherwise the black man in the El Camino will get pulled over. No joke...he said that! Well, what do you know, on his way home he got pulled over! Seriously! Of course he knew he hadn't done anything but he pulled over and waited, while laughing inside.

The cop got out of the car and asked Jamie where he was going like he didn't belong in the neighborhood. He said, "This is my neighborhood, I have lived here for years! Where do you live?" Then Jamie asked him why he had been pulled over and the cop told him he didn't have a front license plate. Jamie laughed and said, "Yes I do, go look!" Then the cop proceeded to ask him in a sarcastic manner to turn off his car because he said he didn't want Jamie to run him over! Jamie said, "Oh, if I was gonna run you over you would have been run over already, but if it makes you feel better I will turn the car off." Not something you would normally say to a cop, but as you can tell he was quite irritated at this point. Deservedly so! The cop went to the front of the car, and oh my gosh, it's a miracle.....there was a license plate! Wow! He came back to the car window and Jamie said, "Are we done?" The cop said, "Oh sorry man I thought you didn't have a plate." Jamie said, "No you're not, you pulled me over because I'm a black man, in an El Camino, in a nice neighborhood." The cop said, "No man it's not like that." Jamie..."Whatever, are we done?" Off the cop went and Jamie came home with yet another DWB story!!!



Maddie said...

This reminds me of the football player that was shot by the Coronado cop. The cop probably didn't think a black man belonged in that Poway neighborhood.

Amy said...

Maddie that is so true! The crazy thing is Jamie is so used to it now it doesn't even phase him. I keep thinking that all of this is going to change and it won't even be a part of our conversation anymore. We have come a very long way but still have a long way to go!

Nay K. said...

AMY & JAIME: Well, by looking at the post dates of May 2009, the old saying "day late and a dollar short" on reading this blog article. Yes, sad to say Amy it's true what your husband has experienced. By the grace and protection of the Holy Spirit, I have NOT experience a lot of those type of incidents in my life, but I have had a few.
However, some of the cases that I have seen with my own eyes and have read about or others have told me about goes like this: Many years ago in the late 80's. I was living in Hollywood and working odd jobs, while my agent would send me on auditions whenever they came up for my type. Well, I was working for Numero Uno's Pizza on the boulevard. It would be jammed packed on weekends, the same as I have heard that Whittier Boulevard would be in East Los Angeles.
Cars would drive from one to the other end and drive back again, cruising. Sure, it was a waste of gas, but it was a fun thing to do. I very clearly remember to this day, a well dress group of young Hispanics (21-25) were in a nice car, did nothing wrong, got pulled over, cops ran the usual ID checks, but while in the process made all four (two guys and two girls) get out of the car and instead of telling them to wait on the sidewalk, the cops made them lay down on the dirty sidewalk for nearly 30 minutes, searched every inch of their car and then finally let them go. Meantime, other groups of Whites and Asians were driving up and down and nothing happened.
I remember incidents like, if an African American man was driving with 3 other Blacks in a new or fairly new BMW or BENZ, they for sure were going to get stopped because they must be drug dealers, gang members and for sure they just stole that car and the cops were going to take some Blacks to jail. When all comes back clean from the police radio report, they still give the driver a trumped up ticket.
Most recently this happened to me was May 2010. It was about 9:30 p.m. On the way driving back, I stopped at the red light, made a right turn and drove to the next intersection, my street. A cop got behind me and followed me a few blocks, which is the norm. I was told that I was pulled over because one, I did not put on my signal light and two, he thought that I had been drinking.
NEVER in my life have gotten a drunk driving ticket because I DO NOT drink. I am always everyone’s designated driver. I was asked about 20 times, if I had been drinking. The cop then gave me the walk the line test, then the touch the nose test which I passed. Then I was asked if I was a member of a gang. Imagine at my age of 51, a gang member (old G).
Then I was told to sit on the sidewalk, while he searches my car. He called for backup because despite that passed all of his DUI test, he was not satisfied and asked another cop to bring a DUI test kit that a person has to blow into. He was sure that he was taking me to jail that night. He partner arrived and one kept an eye on me, while the other searched my car. I kept saying in my mind, "Please God does not let them plant any drugs in my car, just to make an arrest." They kept telling me that they would be done soon. Finally, I was giving the breath analyzer test, which I have NEVER done in my life, so I had to do it twice.
While I do agree with arresting people for drunk driving and drug driving, but I was Not happy after what took nearly 45 minutes and given several test, only to be asked the same stupid question over and over, "And you are sure, you have not been drinking". Finally, I was let go.

Amy said...

Nay K.

A gang! Wow! It never ends this craziness with the police! How was he allowed to search your car? Did you give him permission? The irony of it all is that you don't drink!!!! Wow! That just upsets me. The sad thing is I am just used to it with Jamie. How wrong is that? Being used to something that should not happen in the first place. Stereotyping at it's worst!