At the Daily Yonder, Mary Annette Pember, a frequent contributor to ICTMN, has shared a story of an encounter with law enforcement on a dark country road. It reminds us, in the midst of a national conversation about police violence toward and intimidation of minorities, that African American parents aren’t the only ones who are likely to have the talk with their children. It’s a conversation about deferring to law enforcement even if you haven’t done anything wrong—New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has a mixed-race son, is one of a number of public figures who has described the necessary discussion about behaving extra-carefully when dealing with a police officer.
Pember’s account of “driving while Indian” resonates with what de Blasio and others have said, and has an added level of danger: A special-needs child unburdened, to an extent, by cynicism—a child for whom the talk might not compute. Here are a few chilling lines from the piece:
I tried to calmly answer the officer’s stream of questions.
“License and proof of insurance,” he asked tersely.
And here is where I almost vomited from fear.
Always trying to be helpful, my daughter, Rosa, who is autistic, opened the glove box for the insurance papers. Reflexively the officer put his hand on his gun as he quickly stepped forward and shined the light toward Rosa and the glove box. She let out a little scream.