Suburban While Black - NJ7 Citizens for Change

Suburban While Black

The George Floyd killing stirs up all kinds of emotions. Why does this keep happening? Will it come to my door? What type of world have I brought my kids into? I am a married, black man living in a fairly affluent suburban community in New Jersey. My wife happens to be white. Our town is diverse while still being segregated. I am close friends with many police officers and hold them in high regard. However, living in this community and coaching baseball does not inoculate me from the realities of my existence.

I recently had to run an errand during the pandemic. I hopped in my wife's car with my son and drove off. Ten minutes into the drive, I realized my wife's inspection sticker was expired. If I were white, this would be no big deal. I would just complete my errand. I am not white. I immediately returned home to switch to my car. An expired inspection sticker gives the police an excuse to pull me over. Being black in the suburbs means you MUST have all your paperwork in order - license, registration, insurance, and inspection. Once a month, I check my car for brake lights, tail lights, and head lights. I can't give them a reason to stop my car.

When I was 16, my family taught me how to survive an interaction with law enforcement. Paperwork in order. Hands in plain sight at "10 and 2" so the officer feels comfortable. No quick movements. I didn't really understand it then. I learned the reasons I was taught this over time. Luckily, I survived. My sons are 15 and 16. They may be bi-racial but they are black when it comes to police interaction. I will not only teach them how to drive, but how to survive the same interaction law enforcement. It pains me to have to teach them this. I want them to live in a world where this would not be unnecessary. Sadly, this is not the case. It is my responsibility to give my sons the tools they need to survive. Then I am forced to let them live their lives and HOPE they return home to me each day. Being "Suburban while Black" can be exhausting.

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James Davis

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  • Danne Smith Mathis
    commented 2020-06-01 10:01:17 -0400
    Truth!
    Thank you for speaking it!
  • Nj7c4c
    published this page in Blog 2020-06-01 09:11:34 -0400
  • NJ7 Citizens for Change posted about Suburban While Black on NJ7 Citizens for Change's Facebook page 2020-06-01 09:02:33 -0400
    "Being black in the suburbs means you MUST have all your paperwork in order - license, registration, insurance, and inspection. Once a month, I check my car for brake lights, tail lights, and head lights. I can't give them a reason to stop my car."
  • @NJ7C4C tweeted this page. 2020-06-01 09:02:15 -0400
    "Being black in the suburbs means you MUST have all your paperwork in order - license, registration, insurance, and inspection. Once a month, I check my car for brake lights, tail lights, and head lights. I can't give them a reason to stop my car." https://www.nj7citizensforchange.org/suburban_while_black?recruiter_id=3