A little less than 10 years, I purchased my first car. I was working full-time at a bookstore (Borders — remember them) and had just graduated from college.
I’ve always liked sexy cars, and, at the time, Infiniti G35 coupes were the car to have. New car, new diploma…
I grew up in the South Bay area and was driving from Westchester down Sepulveda all the way to the Borders in Manhattan Beach to pick up a book that wasn’t in stock at my location. Manhattan Beach is a white “white” area, opposed to Westchester which at the time was more “multicultural,” white.
After I picked up my book from the Manhattan Beach location, I was driving down Rosecrans. I stopped at a controlled left. A bike cop appeared in my rearview. The light turned green. As I drove, the first bike cop follow, then, another bike cop appeared. Then three bike cops. Then four bike cops. Then five bike cops.
The cop signaled for me to pull over and I pulled over in front of a bus stop that happened to be filled with 5–6 black and brown people. I recall there was an old, frail black man with a cane sitting at the stop. I was relieved that there were other people around. My car had no plates at the time.
One cop came to my driver’s side. One to the passenger. My Borders name badge and book purchase were visible on my passenger seat. The cops told me that they had received a report than a silver Infiniti had been stolen from the Borders parking lot. I told them that I worked there and had just left. And the car was mine.
The cop asked for my license and registration. I overheard the driver’s side cop tell his partner that it “looks like it is his.” All the other cops waited behind us. By this time, the old black man had stood up and taken a few steps toward my car.
The cops told me they would like me to step out of the car to search my car. Keep in mind, this car was brand-new, no tinted windows and nothing in the car. So new reflection in the paint and interior. When I got out of the car, the black man became vocal toward the cops.
I waited with three other cops as one cop searched my car. The bike cops I waited with asked to search my pockets.
The cop finished searching my car and came over gave me my license and registration and told me they were following procedure and wished me on my merry way.
By this point, the black man was scoffing and chuckling sarcastically. As I drove off, he began to banter with the cops yelling “are you serious?” “That’s a new car.” The rest of the bus stop nodded in disgust.
When I got home and told my black law enforcement parents, I got two different responses. My mom asked me if I did what I needed to do — hands visible, OVERLY polite, OVERLY compliant, don’t converse. My dad was pissed that (1) ownership was established when it was the cops who said a car had been stolen (2) I was asked to get out of the car for two separate searches.
This story is NOTHING compared to what some friends have experienced and what we all know to be true about driving while black. But the trauma occurs in the contemplation to comply and adjust your normal communication style for your life’s sake or call BS, go zero to 100 and end up losing your whole life over some BS.
I never followed up and didn’t care to see if a car had been reported stolen, but I’m curious to know if BLACKS should be on their best behavior when interacting with white cops period and/or what that means to the situation we are in with police brutality.
To make it simple, is it smart for a black person to lick the boots of a white cop?
Or does it not matter and blacks are permitted to live life without restriction?