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How to Calm a Police Officer

    Our ancestors have been, as far as I know, from the British Isles entirely for the past 400-plus years. A second cousin had his DNA tested and his came out the same. So you know what color we are. I was raised by parents who believed they had no prejudices, and mostly they didn't. My father had some religious hang-ups, for instance against Catholics - nothing personal, he just thought they were severely wrong and going to the bad place when they died. My mother thought she wasn't either. But in early fourth grade I decided I wanted to write stories. Since it was near Halloween, I wrote a story about some children that decided to explore a reputedly haunted house. As it was nearly done, I took it home to show it to my Mother.
    "Oh, no," she exclaimed, referring to one character who was African-American, "A little black boy would never go in a haunted house because he would be too afraid!"  I was so disappointed and shocked I didn't finish the story and didn't write again for about six years. But they weren't prejudiced.......mostly. Neither am I... well, I have to admit that when I see two women fighting, rolling on the ground or pavement, resembling a dust-ball with a fist occasionally showing like in comics, I usually say "They must be ___s." The fact that I've so far been right doesn't excuse it - it's prejudice never the less. And what does this word mean? Pre-judging, because of any reason, color, country of origin, religion, any reason whatever. As I often thought - not said - to my father and others, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Easy to quote, not always as easy to do.

    We live in a very mixed neighborhood. It's now mostly Hispanic of one sort or another. but we speak Spanish, so no problem. In my daughter's high school she was part of 1.5% of white Americans.

    Back about four decades ago, my husband came home and told me he had turned in his resignation, as the company were he was an executive was involved in some probably illegal actions, and he didn't want to be involved. We were in the depth of a recession, and he said we'd all have to pitch in. We cut lawns, repaired neighbor's cars, even did small construction jobs, welding and cutting and trash clearing. I opened an office and warehouse for Fuller Brush, and taught my husband how to throw newspapers. The kids had both had paper routes on bicycle, and knew how. Our son had turned sixteen and didn't have a route then; we got a group of routes in most of the Allapattah area and all pitched in. We bought my son a used car; he had failed driving class in school, having run down some plastic markers after several classes in which he failed to parallel park, and lost his temper. We hired a driving school for a few one-on-one lessons and he got his license. Then I sat him down and had a frank talk.

    First, i explained how dangerous it was to be a police officer. It had to be hard on their nerves, knowing that any traffic stop could end up with their death or at least wounding, for just doing their job. I told my son he would be stopped, partly because of his age and gender, and part because he was out driving around at 4 or 5 AM; also every three weeks he drove out to the airport late Saturday night to put the Fuller orders from all our reps on a plane bound for Kansas. I told him when this happened, to pull over immediately, and put both his hands on the top of the steering wheel and keep them there. If they asked for his license, he should tell them which pocket it was in and ask permission to take it out. His registration was attached to the steering wheel in a plastic packet, so he didn't need to get into the glove compartment. Do EXACTLY whatever the cop asked, calmly. He followed my instructions and never had a problem. Once he was stopped at a roadblock about 2 AM on the way to the airport, and the policeman, after checking his license, said "Oh, a Metcalf....." and explained they were looking for a thief who had held up a store and taken off in a car EXACTLY like his. The officer said under the circumstances, he'd have to ask him to park and wait until they found the perp or gave up; would he park and just wait or snooze? Mark agreed and went to sleep in his car. Eventually the officer came back, woke him up and told him he could go, apologizing for the inconvenience.

    One blistering hot day he took his sister's bicycle to a repair place, and pulling in, a siren sounded behind him. He took the position. A short policewoman stepped out sucking on a Popsicle. After checking his license, she apologized, "I thought you looked too young to have a license to drive."
    "That's okay," he responded, "You look too young to be a policewoman." Fortunately she laughed.

    Parents that don't give this talk to their children are doing the kids and society no favors. Likewise for letting them drive without a license or insurance. Teach them from a young age how to use the transit system, and let them know what the cops do to them if they disobey the instructions is nothing compared to what will happen when they get home!

    Yes, black lives matter - and all other colors, and policeman's lives too, even if some do tend to profile. Let's try to turn things around, and start at home.

 

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