In his blog post on Moats, Field Negro featured some information that registered as a TTDOTYIFYW item for me, namely the basics of what to do when driving-while-black and pulled over by the police:
I know to keep my hands where they can be seen. I know to point to where my registration and insurance card is, and to tell the officer when I am reaching for it. And I know to dial my programmed home number in my cell phone (to get my home recording device) as the officer approaches my car, and keeping my cell phone on all times. I know to make sure I make a mental note of the officer's badge number and his name. And finally, I know to always show my pearly whites before my yes and no sirs.
Learning a new TTDOTYIFYW item always makes me feel like I've been living on the moon, and in some ways, in my white privileged state, I have. After I realize I've been living on the moon again, I either feel dumb, like how- could-I-have-missed-that-it's-so-darn-obvious dumb, or very, very sad, because I become aware of the experience that I haven't had. Reading Field's piece inspired sadness, because the strategy he describes comes from looking at himself as a police officer might look at him--as dangerous, untrustworthy, threatening, criminal. That, in some sense, he must imagine himself as he is seen, that he must take on these ugly characteristics if only in his mind, to formulate an effective strategy for survival. That's not something I have ever had to do. But my son will probably have to. And that is heartbreaking.
The other TTDOTYIFYW item I mentioned today--the need for a how-to-deal-with-police plan--makes me feel more dumb and ignorant than sad. But no self-pity here. It's time to buckle down and start filling in the gaps. I'll report back here on my progress.