Comedian Chris Rock seems to be getting pulled over a lot lately, but it's not necessarily because he's a terrible driver.
While there are seemingly endless cases of non-famous black people being profiled or brutalized by police officers, one might assume that wealth or fame would act as a shield from that disturbing reality facing people of color in this country. If Rock is any indication, they don't.
Rock has been pulled over on three separate occasions in less than two months. The comedian documented each event on social media with a selfie, and the latest one, taken on March 31, shows the shining blue light of a police car illuminating the rear window. It seems even the rich and famous can't avoid racial profiling by police.
"Stopped by the cops again wish me luck," Rock wrote.
For black people, this is just reality: According to a 2011 Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights report, police stop black and brown drivers and pedestrians more than white drivers and pedestrians. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be arrested during a traffic stop, while whites were more likely than blacks to just be verbally warned by police.
Of course, many black people have known this for a long time, including Rock. He's tackled the subject before, including a popular 2000 sketch from The Chris Rock Show, called "How Not to Get Your Ass Kicked by the Police." The sketch included helpful tips such as "be police," and "get a white friend" to avoid confrontation during a police stop. The sketch may have been for laughs, but it made a larger point: Black people must meticulously think through every move during a police encounter to emerge unscathed.
After Rock's selfie on Tuesday, former Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington offered some tips of his own to the comedian, purportedly as a way of helping him avoid this pattern in the future.
The car shouldn't matter. Joking or not, Washington's method of dealing with police behavior speaks to the common presumption that a black person driving an expensive car must be involved in some unsavory activity. And whether it's a Mercedes-Benz or 20-year-old sedan, both share one thing in common: a black driver behind the wheel, and a higher likelihood of being pulled over. Black people shouldn't have to "adapt" to avoid dealing with biases that unfairly target them or otherwise presume that they're criminals.
That reality was underscored last December by the hashtag #AliveWhileBlack, which highlighted that black people do indeed have a drastically different relationship with the police than their white peers.
Because of the pervasive realities of racial profiling, the mode of transportation really doesn't make a difference. Whether it's a walk down the street, a bicycle ride or driving down the street in a car, it's blackness that attracts the disproportionately high police stops.
h/t Huffington Post