Voices’ Blog

Racial Truth & Reconciliation Week Story: Driving While Black- The Vacation Edition

Posted:  -  By: Chlo'e Edwards

Last night, we left our hotel to grab dinner. Because I am unfamiliar with the area, I drove cautiously in the right-hand lane in order to look for our dining spot. I noticed lights flashing in my rear view mirror. Suddenly, I realized I was being followed by two police officers on motor bikes. I was pulled over. In that exact same moment, I realized I was driving in the “trolly lane,” but there was no trolley operating. I slowed down more and turned into a well-lit hotel parking lot. I was on the main strip in Virginia Beach. Two officers approached my car, a car filled with 2 Black women and 3 Black teenage girls. The officer flashed his flashlight in our faces, which blinded us as a result. I had my license out and was prepared to hand it to him. I mentioned to him, “I just realized I was driving in the bus lane; in Richmond, they are in the left lane vs in Virginia Beach where they are in the right lane. I apologize for my error.” His first question was, “Is this your car?” I looked at him oddly, “Yes.” My facial expression displayed my confusion. The officer stated, “I was asking because sometimes people rent cars on vacation and you mentioned you were from out of town.”

I was driving a BMW with personal tags. It was decorated with a Hampton University Alumni plate frame with volleyball stickers from my daughter’s school on the back window. I had a two-digit plate, the special issue “K” version from when I was an appointee in Governor Kaine’s Administration. Nothing about my vehicle would indicate that it was a rental car. It is very obviously not a rental car. I then wondered where someone would even go to rent a BMW X3. Yet, I was asked if my vehicle belonged to me. The assumption was that the car was not mine. White Privilege is never being questioned about owning the vehicle you are driving simply because you are a Black person driving a luxury brand car. The officer ran my tags. Then told us to enjoy our evening. There was no ticket. Instead, the run of the mill insult to my intelligence lingered.

I’ve been pondering on this event since then. I appreciated not being ticketed. I did not  appreciate being questioned on the ownership of my car. This is #DrivingWhileBlack.This is the every day experiences of Black people, which causes one traumatic experience after the next. This is racial trauma. This is another reason why we have to remind folks that #BlackLivesMatter as we look ahead and envision a world free of racism and biases.

Go back to the main page #RTRW2020 Page. 

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