The Social’s Marci Ien recently caused a bit of a social stir when she wrote an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail titled … The double standard of driving while black – in Canada.
Without reading a word of the article, I had a pretty good idea as to what she was likely to talk about. I have had MANY encounters with law enforcement in the past while driving (and not breaking the law).
Ien’s account of her encounter with police outside of her Toronto home, eerily mirrored a similar experience I once had with the police. To make a long story short; police followed me for a block and a half, followed me into the underground parking of the building I was living in with my parents at the time. Their reason for following me?? I didn’t come to a complete stop when making a right turn at an intersection, a block and a half back. Why didn’t they stop me and give me a ticket right then and there?? Perhaps they wanted to see where I was going to, maybe they thought I’d do something else they can write a ticket for?? I’ll never know because I never asked. I was a young Black man, alone with two police officers in an underground parking lot, late at night. I heeded my father’s advice.
When I had first started to go out to parties and clubs, as a young man, borrowing my parents’ car, my father made sure to fully instruct me on how to deal with police if/when they pull me over. He emphasized co-operation. “You say ‘yes sir’ or ‘no sir’ and do whatever they ask/say. This was not out of respect for the police, the reason was to not give them any excuse to do anything to me.
Go to 2:22, but, you should just watch the whole thing. He’s so on point!
My father trusted me, he didn’t trust the police. Even with co-operation, he warned, the police might still “mess” with me. I was a young Black man that would be driving a car they could deem to be too “nice” for me to be driving. They asked the similar questions Ien was asked in her, encounter, do you live here?, is this your car?, and then they gave me a ticket.
That was was just one example of the multiple times I had been pulled over by police, 99% of the time, ending with a warning of some sort.
Maybe the best thing smartphones have done is shine a light on what Black people have been saying for.. forever. There are different rules for us Black people when it comes to dealing with police. Lord knows Black people (especially in the States) have been screaming at the top of their heads about police brutality. In the past when a Black person would say police killed a Black person in cold blood, it was easy to deny, dismiss or ignore. Smartphones have changed that, somewhat. The dismissive denials, despite video evidence, still exists.
To wrap this article up, I’ll highlight some poignant statements made by Ms. Ien, in her op-ed…
We like to point fingers at the racial discord in the United States, but fail to acknowledge our shortcomings here at home. Our country has to get its own house in order before patting itself on the back for being a paragon of racial harmony.
If you are a person of colour in Canada, you experience a profoundly different – and sometimes troubling – relationship with the law. If you are Black in Canada, you are subject to a different standard and, often, seemingly, different laws.
So how do we fix this? There are no easy answers, but one solution would be to start with our kids. We know that children are not born with prejudice. Racism is learned. A study by renowned Harvard psychologist and racism expert Mahzarin Banaji shows that biases can be instilled as early as 3.
Most of the solutions to our social ills, in my opinion, starts with the children. Whitney Houston said it best, teach them well and let them lead the way. We just have to work on what it is we’re teaching them.
(BTW, my personal trust in police has improved somewhat as I’ve matured BUT, this is just one of the many reasons there’s a lack of needed trust between the Black community and the police.)