How to Write About Racism

June 4, 2020 2:50pm
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I was honestly thinking about just skipping my humor column this week because it’s hard to imagine anything funny when it comes to racism, but last night I hit an unexpected burst of inspiration at around 3am and I ended up coming up with something that will go up tomorrow morning.

I’m not entirely sure how it will be received. It’s definitely not a traditional humor column and more so just has what I thought were some funny quips mixed in with a lot of observation and my own two cents on everything that’s been happening around the country.

Some people will probably think it’s preachy, but that’s ok.

It’s one thing to write about the unique challenges I’ve faced with the family during the COVID-19 lockdown over the last couple of months, but racism and police brutality are very different. In a way, I feel kind of helpless because I’m not sure what I can do besides trying to be a positive voice and donating money to people on the front lines and just listening more.

The other day I was commenting on a Facebook post where a lot of black folks were sharing stories of being harassed by the police, and it made me sad to think that the worst encounter I’ve ever had with the police was almost disgustingly tame by comparison. I was 17 or 18 and had just recently gotten a sports car – a bright red Pontiac Firebird – and I was driving with some friends out in the country in an area that allowed me to have some fun.

We were going a lot faster than the speed limit – probably 85 in a 55, if I had to guess – and eventually we found ourselves behind a cop.

“No big deal,” I thought as only a teenager would. “He can’t pull us over if he’s in front of us!”

Well, the cop pulled into the next gas station we passed and not long after I saw him pulling right back out after us in my rearview mirror.

One friend in the passenger seat may or may not have flipped him the bird as we drove past…

And a couple of miles later he caught up with us and pulled us over, though luckily by then I’d dropped back down to the actual speed limit.

Now here’s the difference – nobody got pulled out of the car. My friend got an offhand comment about his attitude problem, but nothing more. And all I ended up with was a fix-it ticket for driving on bald tires.

Needless to say, reading stories of black guys getting guns pulled on them and thrown to the ground and even just harassed about where they were going when they were just screwing around with their friends like I was is very humbling.

So anyways, tomorrow’s humor column is going to be a little different, but hopefully it makes you think about inequality and how we all need to demand better from each other.

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