Driving While Black

Chris BeecherCreative Writing, Description & Scene

Exercise Prompt: In response to Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, describe a racial/ethnic microaggression experienced by the speaker and its impact on the self. Make sure to use rich, vivid, sensory detail as Rankine does in her text. Study her words closely. How do words evoke feelings?

You are going out with your friends on a Friday night in Los Angeles.  You all have no worries other than the big basketball game that is coming up.  You are driving down Wilshire Blvd with your two black friends at night, in a predominantly white area, known as Beverly Hills. You are having a good time cruising a few mph over the speed limit and listening to your favorite songs.  Next thing you know, You’re all surrounded by four cop cars blinded by the unnecessarily bright lights.  You are a fairly new driver, never had an encounter with the police, and are scared shitless because you are surrounded and have no idea why.  You are told the reason you were stopped is because the plates on your brand new car are still paper, but you are not dumb, that is no reason to call for back up, you know why those cops are really there.  You do not have your license on you, but your white privilege makes up for it.  Instead, your friends are being very aggressively questioned with beaming flashlights being pointed at their face.  Their Ids which the cops had no business taking because they were not driving, were being held for an extensive amount of time, and when any of you ask questions, you are told to shut up and wait.  You are finally allowed to leave, so you drop your friends off and make it home safe and sound.  You lie awake the whole night asking yourself the same question over and over again, what would have happened if you weren’t there?  You lie awake thinking of the few practical outcomes.