Dante and Melanie were ready to be home after a long week away in Odessa, TX. After the sudden passing of his grandma, it was nice to get away to his hometown to celebrate her life with his family and extended family. Having his aunts, uncles, and cousins meet his fiance, Melanie meant the world to him. He looked over in the passenger’s seat as she curled up into a ball against her seatbelt with her satin bonnet wrapped around her precious curls.
Why they decided to leave late Saturday evening was beyond Dante, but he could get past it. Melanie was so worried about her black lab, Dexter, that he was more than willing to make the drive home for her. He glanced over at Melanie again and saw her peeking at her bright phone screen.
“Is everything ok baby,” Dante asked. Melanie wiped at her eyes and grabbed her glasses from the cup holder. “Dexter is still sick; how much longer until we are back in Dallas?,” Melanie slowly sighed. Just as she finished her questions a mirage of bright flashes flared into the vehicle with the accompaniment of loud sirens. Dante glanced down at his speedometer as it dropped from 60 to 45 to 15 – until he was at a complete stop. On the side of the road in the middle of practically nowhere between Odessa and Dallas, fear shook him. Three loud taps, followed by a thick Texan accent, “Sir, roll your window down.” Dante slowly removed his left hand from the steering wheel and rolled the window down.
Immediately he realized all of the horror stories of what he often joked as “driving while black.” It had never been an issue in Dallas, but at this moment he silently recalled the last 10 minutes of driving. He was slightly under the speed limit, drove with one hand on the wheel for a few minutes to hold Melanie’s hand, and had looked over to check on Melanie quite a few times – but he couldn’t recall doing anything wrong. He tried not to worry about that as reality slapped him in the face with Melanie’s quiet cry, “Dante, the officer asked you to get out of the car – please get out.”
The officer roughly repeated his demands for him and Dante slowly started moving to open the door. As he stepped out of the car, the officer stepped back and slid his hand down to his hip. A harsh gasp came from inside the car and it took everything in Dante’s power not to look back and reassure Melanie that everything was going to be ok. Before he could look back, the officer grabbed Dante by his arm and informed him that “I’m going to search you right now for weapons and drugs.” Dante stared forward with his hand on the hood of his car. He could see Melanie in the car with tears glistening down her face as the snide comments rolled smoothly from the officer were drowned out.
Yet another perk of being a black man in America.