Driving While Black: Equal Protection Under the Law

Driving While Black: Equal Protection Under the Law

When MotorTrend The first time in newsstands in 1949, Jim Crow’s discriminatory laws were rife in much of America. Although the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibited segregation, institutional racism against black drivers still remains more insidious today. Recent protests following the assassination of George Floyd and others show that this is the case.

Last week, MotorTrend retraced the history of black motorists grappling with Jim Crow’s laws. This legalized injury prohibited them from driving in certain cities after sunset and dictated where they could (and couldn’t) host, dine or pump gas. And, terrifying, in the event of an accident, which hospitals would treat them. We also profiled one of the pioneering black racing drivers and the obstacles he faced.

Some of you will read this and say, “Stay out of politics. Hold on to the cars. “

Like it or not, the auto industry is unquestionably linked to politics. Laws adopted by politicians dictate what we drive, where we drive and how fast we drive. But I would say it is above politics. It is a human rights issue.

By publishing these articles, MotorTrend seeks to educate and raise awareness of a social spot on the American fabric. We hope to challenge the presumptions, spark deep conversations and spark constructive action.

For whites, stopping traffic is almost always transactional. But the experience of blacks often involves a threat of tension, harassment or violence. It’s not just with the police. Black drivers are familiar with “appearance” when crossing an unfamiliar neighborhood. And most black Americans clearly remember the “speech” they heard from their parents the day they got their driver’s license.

Despite the efforts of government officials and law enforcement to eliminate this type of systemic racism, independent studies have repeatedly shown that racial profiling and discrimination continue today.

The Stanford Open Policing Project has studied over 200 million traffic stops and has found a clear indication of racial bias on who was arrested, why they were arrested and what interactions took place. A study by Nature: Human Behavior on 100 million traffic stops made by 21 state patrol agencies and 35 municipal police services for almost a decade revealed a similar bias. In addition, reports from Illinois in 2013, Missouri in 2017 and other states have shown similar local and regional trends, even when studies were monitoring patrol areas and crime by race statistics.

In July 2016, the only black Republican senator from the United States, Tim Scott of South Carolina, addressed the issue on the Congressional floor: “In one year (in Washington, DC), I was arrested seven times by law enforcement officers. The vast majority of the time, I was arrested for nothing more than driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood or for some other trivial reason. Imagine the frustration, the irritation, the feeling of a loss of dignity which accompanies each of these stops. “

In a 2018 National Geographic interview, Robert F. Smith, a $ 5 billion net worth private equity giant, said he had been arrested “more times than I remember.” remember. “

Gretchen Sorin, esteemed college professor and author of Driving in black (which we have extracted for our history by the same title), has devoted years to research on the history of the black automobile in America. Her husband, who was white, drove their Lexus with winter tires about a month after the snow melted in New York State. Never caught a second look from the police. The first time Gretchen borrowed the car, the police stopped her … allegedly because of her tires.

MotorTrend is not anti-law enforcement. It is necessary in the context of civil society. We actively assist the Los Angeles Police and Sheriff Services and the El Segundo Police Service in identifying the vehicles used in the crimes. We are also coordinating with the California Highway Patrol to create many of our closed circuit tests. More than a few of us at MotorTrend have close relatives and friends at work. We understand the challenges that law enforcement faces on a daily basis.

Our mission to MotorTrend is to cover trends in the car and automotive culture. And if one segment of our society cannot enjoy the automobile in the same way as the others, then we need to talk about it, honestly and openly, and make changes.

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