The discussion fostered around Nitasha Sharma’s Hip Hop Desis on Tuesday was incredibly interesting, and I am still thinking about some aspects of it. One part of the conversation in particular that struck me was started by the discussion question about the status of blackness. As a class, we discussed the difference between blackness as a commodity experienced through the media (for non-black people) as opposed to the actual lived experience of black people. This part of our discussion specifically stayed with me because it got me thinking about the white privilege I have, specifically around driving.
The term “driving while black” came up during the conversation which is what started my thoughts on this topic. When I’m driving down the highway and I notice a police car is cruising next to me, I make sure to drive the speed and feel pretty comfortable that I won’t get pulled over. If anything, I worry about accruing points on my license. I don’t worry about being wrongfully pulled over, and if I were to be pulled over I would not fear for my safety or my life.
When I’m driving with my friends that are black, I do get nervous when I see police cars. I get really worried. But even then, I’m still not worried my own safety, I’m worried about the safety of my friends. I don’t know what it’s like to–without fail–feel a course of adrenaline run through my body every time I see a police car or a police officer; and I feel like that’s something that I won’t ever be able to truly know. I can continue to educate myself so that I’m aware that police brutality is disproportionately inflicted on people of color (which is important), but I will never truly know that fear.