The first time I saw him drive, I didn’t realize it was him. How could it be, he had left about 10 minutes before me, and it was only a 15 minute drive from place to place. He had beamed earlier when he told me that he had gotten his learner’s permit. He had walked or rode the bus everywhere until then.
So, there I was on the road 10 minutes behind him. And I am stuck behind this car going so slow, I am sure that the drive will actually take me 25. You know the kind, where you look for every small gap in traffic to pass them, but instead you spend more time on your breaks than the accelerator. ‘Why accelerate at all?’ You think to yourself as you just start coasting. There it is, the gap in the traffic, speed up, swerve, and pass them. Rubber neck as you go by to see who could possibly drive that slow? It’s him.
Like a tidal wave pouring fear, privilege, hate, racism, and society over me, I realize. He has to drive that slow. I realize that from this moment on, he could be pulled over at any moment for any reason. He has made himself vulnerable. I have vivid mental images of him, like so many before him, being dragged out of that car by police.
Instinctive protectiveness competes with the feeling of desolate helplessness. There is nothing I can do to stop it. Nothing I can do to stop it. But we can.