His mother took a call from Daunte telling her that he was being pulled over. He called her because it was he was driving a car she recently gave to him and he wanted to get the insurance information for the car. In describing the call, she said, “I said when the police comes back to the window, put him on the phone and I will give him the insurance information. The I heard the police officer come to the window and say, ‘Put the phone down and get out of the car. And Daunte said ‘why?’ And he said ‘We’ll explain to you when you get out of the car.”
Daunte was 20 years old.
Daunte wasn’t armed.
Daunte was black.
He died less than ten miles from where George Floyd died.
And his traffic violation – there was a dangling air freshener in the car. He died because of an air freshener.
Rest in Peace, Daunte. May the Angels guide you to your rest and the Father’s perpetual light shine upon you.
Today on social media, black fathers are sharing stories of times when we’ve had to have The Conversation. If you’re white and you’re reading this, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. When I explain it, there might be a chance you will say “Well, I have that conversation with my kids too about following the orders of a police officer. It’s not a racial thing!”
Bullshit! It totally is … because you conversation is not about staying alive so you can try your chances on a system that seems to be designed to fuck you over.
But we’ll get to that in a minute.
The conversation covers how to act in police interactions, especially when driving. It is a conversation that stresses, regardless if it’s fair or not, the following:
- Black people will not be given the benefit of the doubt.
- Black people will not be given an opportunity to explain anything.
- Follow the orders.
- Get out of the car when instructed.
- Keep your hands visible.
- Put your wallet on the dashboard so you don’t have to go into your pocket.
- Drop to the ground.
- Don’t reach for your phone.
- Don’t argue.
- Don’t run.
- Don’t do anything at all unless you’re told … and then maybe don’t do that.
- Let them arrest you if necessary,
- Let us figure this out while you’re alive.
- Please stay alive.
Years ago, I had this conversation with my son for the first time. He didn’t want to hear some of it. He didn’t understand some of it. Years later, having been pulled over, having watched me being pulled over, seeing what is happening in America, both he and I are starting to understand more.
And this year, my daughter begins to take Phase 2 of drivers training. This is the year where I have the conversation with her. I tried to have it the other night, but found myself crying about five minutes into it. She cried too.
At the end of it she said, “Daddy, I’m scared.”
“I am too, C. I am too.”
The Conversation sucks. It hurts. It breaks my heart. It hurts my children.
And every time this happens, every time I read these names, I hurt all over again and I lose faith that nothing is ever going to change in this fucking country. This is a small sampling of the people of color who have been killed. They were unarmed.
- Eric Garner – 2014
- Michael Brown, Jr. – 2014
- Tamir Rice – 2014
- Phillip White – 2015
- Sandra Bland – 2015
- Alton Sterling – 2016
- Philando Castlie – 2016
- Charleena Lyles & her unborn baby – 2017
- Antown Rose, Jr. – 2018
- Gregory Edwards – 2018
- Elijah McClain – 2019
- John Neville – 2019
- Breonna Taylor – 2020
- George Floyd – 2020
- Carols Carson – 2020
- Angelo Quinto – 2020
- Daunte Wright- 2021
I am sick and tired of The Conversation. I am so tired of armed police officers killing unarmed black people. I am tired of worrying about my son and my daughter. I am tired of worrying every time I commute from Kalamazoo to Lansing for work.
Today, I will post this and I know there are a few of my friends will like it on social media. I am grateful for that. Their willingness to just click on something is a small move to let me know they care, or at least cared enough to read what I wrote.
There are too many, however (and I have a list of their names in my head to keep an eye out for when I post something like this) who will not like it, and not hit the “I care” emoji or whatever. These friends will be silent and cause my heart to break even more because despite of all the time I’ve invested in that friendship, they would rather be silent rather than to help me have a better version of The Conversation. Hell, they probably have “snoozed” me a while ago because I started speaking up because I can’t take it anymore.
If that’s you and this make you uncomfortable … good. Got one more thing for you to take under consideration. Fuck … you … my friend!
Facing racism head on, speaking out about it … that doesn’t make good politics and so my friends will be quiet … when all I need is a “like” or some other Facebook/social media sign to let me know that I’m not alone.
The list of names in my head grows longer every time I post. This morning, in America, it’s longer than it’s ever been. It’s not shrinking.
And that hurts just as much as The Conversation.