We Are All Sandra Bland

Go Warriors! On Saturday, I was driving back from picking up BBQ at Everett and Jones in Oakland near Jack London Square–racing to get home to see every minute of the game with the Spurs.

My loyalties are somewhat divided because I was born at Brooks General Hospital in San Antonio when my Dad was stationed there at Kelly Field. I also have a crush on Kawhi Leonard and had mixed feelings about his injury–sorry to see him sidelined, but happy that his amazing skills would not be able to derail the Dubs.

As a former member of the pep club in high school, I gleefully affixed two Warrior flags to the windows of my car and love flying down the road with them waving in the wind.

Bakersfield California/Jeff Sessions

As I drove home with “Do I Do” by Stevie Wonder blasting in my car, I thought about my plans to drive to Bakersfield today to meet with clients. I wondered if I could leave my flags on my car. Now some of you may be thinking: “Why is this an issue?”

Every time I turn off Highway 5 and take that lonely patch of road that leads to Highway 99, I get very nervous. I think of Sandra Bland who was stopped for switching lanes improperly and wound up dead. I think of the time I was returning my rental car at the airport in Bakersfield and walked past a group of police officers. This took place after yet another killing of an unarmed Black man by the police. I thought, “If they shoot and kill me right now, even if I am acting lawfully, nothing will happen to the police. Black people can be shot down like animals with few consequences.”

Of the many dreadful consequences of life in the Age of Trump and Trumpism, one of the worst is that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is head of the Department of JUSTICE. He is rapidly making sure that more people of color will be incarcerated and that police departments will not be carefully scrutinized to make sure that the civil and human rights of citizens and non-citizens alike will be honored and protected.

I also remembered a study that found that cars with provocative bumper stickers are stopped more frequently that cars with benign messages. I remembered the notion of Driving While Black. “Should I take my flags off my car,” I thought. “Why draw attention to my Black self?”

The Equal Justice Society Continues to Combat Racial Bias

I enjoy communicating with EJS folks and folks in general about my thoughts and feelings and realized that I have not written anything since my return from Kenya and my marvelous sabbatical this past March.

We at EJS have been working mightily to combat racism. Our emphasis on implicit bias remains, but we are also highlighting the other aspects of the Resilience of Racism–explicit bias and structural bias. It is important for us to talk about the fact that racism both casual and blatant still impacts the daily lives of all of us.

On Sunday, I looked with pleasure at the flags on my car and decided to leave them on as I fly down the road. I had to talk to folks at the Padre Hotel in Bakersfield about my room. At the end of the conversation, I asked the young man who was answering my questions if I thought the local police would stop me because of my flags. He said, “I love KD.” I laughed. He went on to say that the Warriors are a Northern California team and that folks in Bakersfield support the Lakers or the Clippers and since neither of those teams were in the playoffs, I should be fine. I laughed again.

So, I am going to drive down to Bakersfield today to meet with clients and community folks regarding racism in the high school there, but I will let my “freak flag fly.” That is a phrase we used back in the day. I will be a bit nervous as I cross over to Highway 99 from I-5, but I will be my Black Warrior loving self.


Go Warriors!!!

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