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Merlin sitting in the Van

I have not told this story before. I worry how it will be received. I don’t know the right language to express it other than my own thoughts and feelings. This post is not for people of color because they already know it. This is for white people living in suburbs and small towns who think this is a big city problem.

Before moving to New York City, I drove every where. I got pulled over 3 times in 15 years; two speeding tickets and an illegal left hand turn.

The first year I was back in Michigan, I got pulled over 5 times. Each time it was for impeding traffic and I did not get a ticket.

I drove a dark grey, 1998 Chevy Venture van that was in good shape.

The traffic stops were unlike any I had experienced in the past. The first one was in Monroe County on Dixie Highway near Sterling State Park. I was coming home from the park with my dogs. The sun was setting and it was twilight. My Poodle, Merlin, sat in the passenger seat and Indy, a Jack Russel Terrier, was in the back. I was driving down Dixie Highway at 50 mph, which is the speed limit. Flashing lights popped up behind me. My heart raced. What did I do? I pulled over and tried to calm down; I didn’t want to look suspicious.

It was a Monroe County Sheriff. I thought one of my running lights was out. As the sheriff approached my van, he unfastened the holster of his gun. I had not experienced this before. I wrote it off as the new standard procedure on all traffic stops. Or maybe this guy was a cowboy.

The officer asked where I was going. He looked in the window and flashed his light on Merlin and his demeanor changed. The stern look on his face disappeared, but he seemed annoyed. I thought I was going to get a ticket for Merlin being in the front seat. He didn’t ask if I’d been drinking or had any weapons. He asked to see my license, looked at it under his flashlight and handed it back. Then he explained he pulled me over because I was going 3 miles under the speed limit and was impeding traffic. There were no other cars on the road. I said I was not aware of it. He told me to keep an eye on it and that he was giving me a warning. I thanked him. He walked back to his car.

I remember being confused about it, but since I didn’t get a ticket, I didn’t think to much about it. Impeding traffic, never heard of it.

Same thing happened in Flat Rock and Huron Township. Impeding traffic, didn’t get a ticket. On the third stop, I asked one of the officers if impeding traffic was a new law in Michigan and he got a little snappy with me. The oddest one was the second time I got stopped in Huron Township.

Merlin was a tall dog who often sat in the passenger seat. When he was in the passenger seat or the back seat, he was tall enough to be mistaken for a person, especially at night. When the officer got to my window he asked, “Who’s in the back? I said, “No one. Just my dogs.” He asked me two more times. “Who’s in the back?” And I said, “It’s a dog.” He asked me to take the dog out of the vehicle.

I got out, called Merlin to the front and took him out through the driver’s side door. The officer said, “Is that a Poodle?” I said yes and put Merlin back in the van. The officer seemed mad, like I tricked him somehow and was wasting his time as he explained the impeding traffic law

After that, I had the speedometer on the van checked to see if it was working correctly. It was.

The scariest one was the night I was driving home from my sister’s house at around 10 pm. I was going down Middlebelt Road, again in Huron Township. There was a Huron Township police car behind me since I turned onto Middlebelt. I kept checking my speedometer and I was doing the speed limit. After about a mile, he turned on his lights. I thought, “Again?” It is frustrating to be pulled over repeatedly by the police. Your heart races every time and you are scared. There is the thought, “What if it’s not the real cops?”

This time there were two Huron Township SUV police vehicles that pulled me over. One cop walked up on the passenger side of my van. I saw him in the sideview mirror unholstering his gun as he sidled up to the window where Merlin was sitting. His fingers relaxed slightly when he saw Merlin. Merlin rarely barked at people.

I thought, “Holy crap! Maybe my van matches the description of a vehicle used in a crime.” This is a rural area, it’s about 10 pm and it is dark out. I’m a woman alone. Thank God I had Merlin with me.

I rolled down my window and was asked to roll down the passenger window. I did. I asked the officer, “Did I do something wrong?” because I was at a loss. He asked me if I’d been drinking and if I had any weapons. I said no. He took my license and examined it with his flashlight. He handed it back and asked where I was going. I was heading home and explained where that was and the route I was taking to get there. The whole time the other cop is still standing on the passenger side with his hand on his holstered gun.

The first officer explained I was driving erratically and going 5 miles under the speed limit and went through the impeding traffic law as if I was five years old. I didn’t get a ticket.

It was puzzling and irritating. I felt I was being punished for driving an old van. But what could I do?

One day, sitting at a restaurant having breakfast with my Dad; our old neighbor came in and said, “There’s a black man stealing your van. He’s behind the wheel right now.” I paused a minute and realized he was referring to Merlin. Bells went off.

I was furious. I wanted to go home and rage at every police department that pulled me over. I wasn’t impeding traffic, it’s not my van, it’s not my driving–they thought Merlin was a black man!

That’s why I kept getting pulled over. They thought it was a black man in an old van. I was so angry I wanted to drive to Dearborn at night with Merlin in the passenger seat and create a big stink when I got pulled over. “Call the news!” I’d shout! I wanted to rage at someone. But who? I couldn’t prove any of it. If only I’d realized it as it happened.

There were plenty of times black men pulled up next to me when Merlin was in the passenger seat and said, “Hey, a brother dog.” I should have known. John Steinbeck wrote in “Travels with Charley,” Charley was also a Poodle, that he had to be careful driving in the South. He got in trouble a few times because people thought Charlie was a black man. How could I be so stupid!

I stood behind my van with Merlin in the passenger seat and could see how he was mistaken for a black man. I wish I had a photograph.

This happened to me 5 times in the span of about a year. I cannot imagine having it happen several times a week my entire life. As a white woman, getting stopped by the police is scary; it makes my heart race and my stomach hurt. I’m sure a black person’s fear and rage is a hundred times greater.

Since Merlin died, I have not been pulled over once.

This happens daily to black Americans. It’s not right. The fear is real. The rage is real. Black lives matter.

How do we change it?

For more information on how you can be part of the change, check out this excellent post by Michelle Webber on her blog King of States titled, “Racial Justice, A List of Resources for White People Who Are Not on Twitter 24 Hours a Day”

I recommend the book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.” By Matthew Desmond.

He recommends some very simple changes to stop the eviction cycle that keeps so many in poverty. The first is changing the law so everyone who goes to housing court is represented by a court appointed attorney. It will enforce the laws that already exist. This is what I’m working on to make a change.

Merlin in his usual doo.
Merlin is sitting in the driver’s seat.

Those interested in reading more about Merlin, read the post, “My Friend Merlin” on this blog.

450 thoughts on “A White Woman, Racism and a Poodle

  1. Anne Trim says:

    Very thought provoking and well written. Thank you for the insight. I had a black bouvier and people would often mistake him for a person but was never pulled over because of him. As a wife of a black man and grand-mother to 4 Mohawk grandchildren, I have witnessed prejudice and racism on the part of police towards minorities over the years. Racism is alive and well in Canada too, and in Quebec where I live, though maybe less overt.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Safiyyah says:

    Since Merlin died, I have not been pulled over once. “Wow, just wow” Thanks for the post!

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    1. Sad but true. Thanks for reading.

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    2. Glen Patterson says:

      So True, Thank You for posting.

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  3. Lindsay says:

    Another single white woman here. I used to live in an urban area and drove a ’95 Accord (a common car with minority populations in my area). I got pulled over once at night with my chocolate lab in the back seat. She started barking when she saw the officer approach. He came up to the passenger side window, which I rolled down. Before I could even speak, the very first thing he said was “If your dog bites me, I’ll shoot it.” I was scared. And furious. He became more polite as the stop went on, in hindsight, because I’m guessing he realized I was a young white woman. If that was my white privilege being stripped away momentarily, I can only imagine how it feels to be black in this country. I got to walk away from the situation. Not everyone is so lucky.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love how you put that, “If that was my white privilege being stripped away momentarily…” thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Renee says:

    Merlin was beautiful. This story was insane, thanks for the read.

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    1. Rob Litchfield says:

      I am so outraged by your clearly racist Merlin story! I wonder how many other poodle owners are subjected to this kind of disgusting, unconstitutional assault on a daily basis?! Thanks for sharing!

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      1. No, the question is how many Black Americans are subject to it daily.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. kittynh says:

    I was reading comments and felt sad so many felt this can’t happen NOW. And, I’m glad I’m posting way down here as this is your story, and reading it helped me. This happened just in Boston, and our daughter was doing eye cleaning with milk. And, there are more photos but as a white family, living in a mostly white state, this was “Wow how can this still happen?” Dealing with the fall out now, but, thank you. I want a big poodle now, to just drive around Boston. (It’s OK we’re pacifists, including our daughter). We all have to keep sharing ALL the stories. Oh the story shared has nothing to do with my daughter but they used the photo of her experience in Boston for the photo, and she did pass out rather quickly, which is the only blessing. Keep SHARING all the stories. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/06/donald-trump-brutal-police-protest-crackdown?fbclid=IwAR1ZlH9s1q5hczIkFtQ_dGDH2WJUVWT83A6p7CS7wMEMdjG0M3W2lP5fIB4

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  6. hencha says:

    What a crazy thing to realize. The frequent stops, maybe someone could say that can’t just be racial profiling. But. The strange things you noticed as they approached your car. That’s frightening. And, imagine the heightened adrenaline of the passenger who’s experienced this before and knows their life could be in danger being added to the adrenaline of the officer. Recipe for disaster. Is this their training or innate bias? I probably a little of one, a lot of the other.

    Merlin looks like a fantastic dog. I look forward to digging into your blog to read more about him!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Merlin was very chill. So is Henry, my current black Poodle. Charming, my white Poodle, would bark. In hindsight, it may have been better if Merlin had barked.

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      1. Anonymous says:

        Poodles are the best dogs, and standards are the best poodles.

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  7. kittynh says:

    Thank you. Thank you. When my Black boss would give me a ride home at night, after the college library closed….I was terrified how often she was stopped. She said it was because she had a support Black colleges bumper sticker on her car. It wasn’t her bumper sticker. My heart breaks as reading this, it wasn’t the bumper sticker at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow! Thank you for sharing.

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  8. Anthony Collins says:

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45894101-driving-while-black There is a podcast somewhere with an interesting interview with the writer.

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    1. Dolph says:

      I really can not fathom why any police officer would pull any vehicle to a stop when he sees a white and a black person in that car. Especially in the night, because how can you see that from a distance in the dark?
      I’m sorry to doubt your story, because this is obviously what you experienced, but to me it seems highly improblable that there was a racist of profiling motive.

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      1. I wish I had a photo so you could see it and you would go, “oh!” Let me try to paint a picture. Look at the photo of Merlin at the bottom of the page. You can see how the hair on his head could look like an Afro I hope. Okay, now when he sits on the car seat his head is higher then the head rest like a person. At night headlights from behind and from oncoming traffic show him in silhouette only. He looks like a black man with an Afro.

        If seen from the passenger side, at night, with headlights and streets lights; you can see how he could be mistaken for a person by the photo at the top, can’t you?

        I will try to do a photo with my Poodle, Henry, if I can. Unfortunately, I don’t have good camera, only my cell phone. If I can do it, I’ll add it to the post.

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      2. editann says:

        You must be a white person if you “can’t fathom” this happening.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. kittynh says:

        honestly, go out driving in the dark, but with streetlights. A nice straight path and use your high beams, police cars have amazing head lights…. also look in side mirrors, its one way to see people. Police HAVE TO KNOW who is in a car, and have a good visual, before going up to one for safety. Are there 4 large men in there or a woman and kids. They make a lot of assumptions. Point is, watch one of the TV shows that has reality arrests or anything else. Ask a friend that is a cop, my dad was in law enforcement, and while he never pulled over cars as part of his job, he did go to many a crime scene or accident and such in the dark. They have to see, as it’s their safety. As a say experiment, you could try putting a large black doll, (try Ali Baba or Wish) in your car and drive around at night in an area where you car is not known. You could be writing next!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Read “Travels with Charley.” John Steinbeck experiences something similar driving through the South with a Standard Poodle named Charley. There’s an audio edition narrated but Gary Sinese. It’s very good.

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      5. It’s very simple–if they see what they think is a white woman and a black man, either they may be biased against interracial relationships, or they may assume the man is abducting the woman but making her drive. I’ve heard that women traveling with black friends or boyfriends in the car were stopped and asked quietly by the cop, “Are you all right?” It’s still racism. I’ve also had a white female friend get a ticket for driving too slow, when it was nighttime, she was totally sober, she was in the slow lane, and she was just trying to find the driveway into her new condo development. “Impeding traffic” can be a bogus charge, too.

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      6. I never thought of that. Thanks commenting.

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      7. Ponyhome says:

        What friends of mine have experienced is that, in the minds of cops, a black person and a white person riding together in a car absolutely MUST be involved in some criminal activity. They cannot conceive of any other reason for people of different races to associate with each other. One of my friends who was pulled over and eventually deported from the country was told that for some cops, a black man and white man in the car together equals “drug dealers.” The black man in that case was a Purple Heart awarded Marine!

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      8. patlenzo says:

        It’s happened to me with friends a number of times! The most blatant was when I was driving to DC from NC with a Black family. Late at night the husband was driving, wife was in the back with their 2 small sleeping children and I was sitting in the passenger seat. We were uncertain about the direction we were going in, so my thought when a Hwy Patrolman stopped us was that we could clarify the direction. He checked everything out, gave us the direction (saying we were headed to DC) and let us go. When 15 minutes later we saw a sign that we were going West, not East, we realized that he had deliberately sent us in the wrong direction. It was clear that with my white face glowing in the lights as he saw us, we looked like a mixed couple alone in the car. The whole thing was just harassment, and spitefulness!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Jonathan Taylor says:

    This was all quite fascinating to read. I’m a black male (I’ve never been to Africa). The police pulling you over for a poodle is kind of funny to me. I’ve been pulled over a few times, and I have been blessed. Not once have I had a bad encounter. I have had some interesting conversations with the Officers who have pulled me over. One wanted to buy my car! Even so, when ever I have an encounter with a police officer, I resign myself to the fact that I may be killed. It relaxes me. I did the same thing when I was a soldier, before going out, just accept that i was not coming back, and get on with the mission. On the subject of White Privilege, I admit that I can not relate to it. But, from what I read, you want to do something with it, or about it? I can’t get a grasp on this subject, but what is it you could do about it? It is intangible, legislated, it lacks substance. It seems to me like trying to wrestle a ghost.

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    1. kittynh says:

      I am so glad you have had good experiences to the police. Thank you also for your service. Also, as we all know the police differ in their behavior almost town to town. Here where I live it is well known in Troy you will get a speeding ticket. It’s rather hilarious to see everyone slowing down when they hit Troy, and some newbie WILL get the ticket. Also having grown up in the South, I knew which police were friendly to me and my friends (all of them), and which towns we avoided. The ones that would be “You girls looking for trouble?” We were never looking for trouble if we were all white in the car. I think she is not offering a solution, but it is easy to find. TRAINING TRAINING TRAINING. Because some places GET IT, and some do not. And most of the police we interact with day to day are small town police, and it’s all in the atmosphere of the departments. Enough training and the police would learn to be CALM like you are. The police do have to face potential death every time they walk up to a car, which is why police are sometimes very very aggressive. If they were like you, calm and “This is my job and I’m going to do it correctly.” I’m sure you calmness saved you in war, but I would hope as an American, you would have the right to feel safe in your car. I hope you don’t have to teach your children, “When you go out today, you might die, but accept this, there isn’t anything we can do.” Remember, you are an equal citizen. If women were being shot, there would be a rising up to stop it. And now there is one for you.

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    2. Anonymous says:

      Perfect description, “It’s like trying to wrestle a ghost.”

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  10. Beth Johnson says:

    Wow. Talk about Bells going off. I have a very similar story, though I am Just Now recognizing it for what it likely was. I moved to northern Arizona in 2013. I have had a PERFECT driving record prior to this – in all my near 30 years, I had never once been pulled over. I had been staying pretty obnoxiously adherent to the speed limit, following traffic laws to the letter and actively practiced defensive driving (I had two relatives with permanent brain damage d/t unsafe drivers so I always have felt a deep responsibility to try and avoid ever hurting anyone else on the road). In the space of several months I was pulled over 6 times for various odd reasons. One time they did give me a ticket for speed limit violation (going 20mph+ over limit?!). I was flummoxed because I was definitely driving the speed limit –I even had my cruise control set right on the 60mph dot. I thought maybe my odometer was off so I had that checked out later but it was fine. The officer who had given me the ticket also gave me a very reduced fine — I can’t remember why he said he was doing this, but he made it sound like he was doing me a favor — the fine ended up being much lighter, maybe for only 5mph over. I did not end up contesting it mainly because I was a grad student at the time, didn’t have the time to invest in contesting, and the fine was “low” enough that the cost was worth eating more than taking time off my studies (talk about privileged:(I was venting about this one day to a friend of mine who is a POC and he pointed out that I was likely getting profiled… though he thought it was because I had WA state license plates and marijuana had recently become legal there… I agreed at the time that this was likely the case and certainly every time I had been pulled over they had asked me specifically if I had any marijuana in the car. It was infuriating and by that time I was having very conditioned responses to ANY flashing lights on the road. To this day even ambulance lights coming up from behind can set my heart pounding and make me feel sick to my stomach….   Now, However… NOW. I realize it was probably more so racial profiling. Gypsy – my darling Medium-Large mixed breed Black dog –  she was in the car with me all but one of those times I got pulled over. About a year or so later I relocated my dog back to WA state since it was better for her — to have more attention from my parents since my grad studies were becoming more intense… Since then, I have never again been pulled over. Just WOW. As you said – I cannot imagine having it happen several times a week my entire life. I’d probably have crazy high blood pressure and a heart attack before 50yo if I had that kind of chronic stress…. 😦 My heart bleeds with this knowledge. Yes, The fear is very real. The rage is very real. Black Lives Matter. And it is so So Not Right. 

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing this. Is Gypsy part Poodle by any chance?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Albert says:

      It’s not about black it’s about system of rich and poor nothing you do today can change that as Long as liberal ism is practiced black will remain poor and more George will be killed

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      1. ponyhome says:

        It’s definitely about color. I had two friends pulled over by cops in California, who were eventually told that the only reason cops can imagine for a black man and a white man to be riding in the same car is that they are drug dealers. The black guy was a decorated Marine veteran. This was in the most solidly red part of California, so your theory about “liberalism” doesn’t bear up to the most superficial scrutiny.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Alex H. says:

        It’s also about race. Racism is alive & well in the US, especially amongst cops. Even the FBI verifies this.
        As for your comment about “liberalism”: you do realise that most police lean conservative, right? And that the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white-nationalist groups are all hard conservatives & staunch supporters of the Republican Party ever since it polarised to the right in the early 60s? Of course, “liberal” is actually centre-right (especially compared to the rest of the world).

        Funny how hate crimes are incredibly rare in nations with extremely progressive cultures, but more common in ultraconservative ones…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you! That is a very eloquent reply. You explained so well.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Elaine Binner says:

    I am a white woman. I have traveled across country in a white Mercedes with a black man twice. My car broke down outside of Omaha Nebraska on a Sunday morning in the middle of Winter and while he was going to get help, a sheriff pulled up behind me and asked me what the problem was and as I explained I saw my friend coming back and so did he. He called the owner of the Mercedes dealership. We were escorted there by the sheriff and when the owner of the dealership was finished fixing our car himself, the sheriff escorted us to the edge of town to make sure we kept going.
    In Indiana in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, some young white men in several cars played chicken with me and threw beer bottles at us and tried to run us off the road.
    We were on our way to New Jersey to stay with his family. We were there for about 2 years. We got stopped all the time but that was just how it was. Then one night we were doing laundry it was very snowy and cold outside so we had left the car in front of the laundromat while we put our laundry in the machines. I heard someone say “whose car is that outside” and we both turned around and knew immediately it was not going to be good. This young white cop proceeded to pat my friend down and found on his belt a buck knife which is a folding knife and perfectly legal to have… Except if you’re a black man especially one with a white woman. He was arrested. When he went to court he had done his homework and decided to defend himself. He did an excellent job and the case was thrown out. There were a lot of Police men there and a lot of people in general. Apparently the young policeman thought he had been made a fool of and from that day forward every time we left our house we were stopped. The same policeman didn’t stop us each time so we couldn’t claim harassment and after months of this we finally decided to leave and move back to Los Angeles.

    There’s a term called driving while black it’s why black men get pulled over all the time for absolutely no reason other than the color of their skin. Having experienced this with my friend many times I must say that it’s very frightening because you just never know what’s going to happen.
    We were lucky I suppose. But it was an eye opening experience.

    Thank you for your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to write this and for reading my story. This should not happen in America in the 21st Century, but it does. Sharing our experiences is a great way to start crumbling the barrier.

      Like

  12. Debby Myers says:

    I recently read a book by Malcolm Gladwell called Talking to Strangers. There’s a chapter about a black woman called Sandra Bland who pulls out of the way of a police car and ultimately gets arrested because she argued (rightly I felt) with the officer about why she got pulled over and spends a night in jail with very sad consequences.
    Gladwell goes on to talk about a policy that was introduced in some U.S. states to pull drivers over for dubious reasons.
    Very interesting book, I live in Australia.
    The more I watch the tv about what’s happening around the world, BLM etc, the more I see policing as the problem, in the US, UK and Australia.

    Like

    1. This happened to a friend of mine only she was in jail for the weekend and almost lost her job.

      Like

      1. Kat LB says:

        Sandra Bland spent three nights in jail. On the fourth day, they found her hanged in her cell.
        The family has since settled a wrongful death suit against the police and the jail where she was being held.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Emilio Trampuz says:

    Wow! It’s amazing that there are so many racist cops around in the 21st century, and that they are so eager to harass black people. Somehow, I wouldn’t be so surprised if this happened in the deep South. But in Michigan?!! What a shame!

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    1. Pat Em says:

      They don’t call Michigan the Mississippi of the north for no reason. This state is very racist and most of the state is rural and a hotbed of rednecks, klansmen, white supremacists and racist militias. Outside of the larger Urban areas, Trump is God here. And it’s gotten considerably worse the last few years.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Alex H. says:

        Pennsylvania is the same way. Outside of Pittsburgh & Philadelphia, it’s racists & white supremacists for miles. They even fly the Confederate flag (apparently ignorant of the fact that PA was never part of the Confederacy).

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Anonymous says:

    As a black woman, the mother of two black children, and prior law enforcement I appreciate you sharing this story. It is difficult to say this, but I am glad you have felt the fear. Black men and women endure this frustration daily. We are always considered suspect. Most times the police don’t even check to see who is in the car if it is a black person. They usually administer judgment on the spot.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I cannot imagine what you go through. Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment. May you and your boys stay safe.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Nancy Earley says:

      It’s god for us all to “rewind” and reflect on all of those times when something “just didn’t feel right.” I penned this 3 minute message to recap something that happened years ago. It always nagged at me and made me sad when I recalled it. “Putting it down on paper” eased some of that. Doing something will always feel better than nothing. Thanks for sharing. (Merlin looked like a well-loved dog 🙂

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      1. Pk says:

        Wheelbarrow

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  15. Roxanne Hawn says:

    Thank you for telling this story. I know that 2 of my 3 my dogs would not respond well to people getting that close to me / the car, especially at night.

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  16. Wow. As a white woman living in Michigan, with a black poodle (and who used to have two black poodles), I have to say that this story really impacts me.

    I have never been stopped by the police while driving with my dogs. And they have never been allowed to ride in the front passenger seat, so I don’t think anyone could make the mistake the police made with you.. But when I drove a minivan, my poodle Zoe would often sit in the seat behind me, just the way a person might sit – her paw on the arm rest, looking out the window. I wonder how many people in Midland thought that maybe a white woman was chauffeuring a black person around town?

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    1. That is how Merlin sat. I do not encourage my dogs to sit in the front seat. Merlin was 8? When I moved back to Michigan. My parents raised him. My Mom thought it was cool to have him in the passenger seat.

      Henry rides in the way back. Charming loves to get in the drivers seat as soon as I exit the car. GG is always on the seat behind me.

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      1. BluePoodle42 says:

        I didn’t mean to criticize you for wear your dogs choose to sit, just describing my own experience. Sorry if it came off that way. I have several friends whose dogs sit in the front, particularly if they leave the dog in the car for a few minutes while they run into a store or something. (Living in Michigan, you know that for a large portion of the year, there is no need to worry about the vehicle getting too hot, and so leaving your dog inside is pretty safe.) Since Zoe died, I have tried a time or too to invite my other dog into the front seat, say if we are waiting in a long line at a drive-through, but she has no interest in joining me in front. Just as well, I suppose.

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      2. No worries. I was just saying that neither sit the front seat. Charming will occasionally get in the passenger seat, but usually rides in the back.

        Like

  17. Julie Stonehouse says:

    I once had a similar experience! No dog. My late mode VW Jetta had been rear-ended and I didn’t fix it. So I get that it looked junky. I lived in Oakland, CA at the time, but went to Dublin, CA (a much whiter suberb) to get my haircut. Heading out of town, I got pulled over by the police. I wasn’t speeding or anything, but it was so nerve wracking! First question was why I was in Dublin all the way from Oakland? (Like it’s a crime for residents of Oakland to be in Dublin at 7 pm.) I flipped my freshly cut hair and said, “I just got my haircut Officer.” Did I mention, I’m white? Then he wanted to know who James Stonehouse was? (My father, an attorney, had co-signed for the car because I bought it when I graduated college.) Finally, he told me that I had a broken tail-light and gave me a fix-it ticket. But there was definitely the feeling like I had been pulled over for driving while black…

    Like

    1. Thank you for your thoughts. These stories are highlighting how poor a view white Americans have of black Americans. There is a long way to go. We got the right conversation started.

      Like

    2. I had a similar experience too – old, junky-looking Buick, got pulled over while driving at night. I could see the cop’s hand at their holster as they came up to the car, but they visibly relaxed when they saw I was a youg white woman and their explanation was that I “almost didn’t stop” at a stop sign.

      Like

  18. Jennifer Schrader says:

    Thanks for your story; that’s very illuminating.

    I’m a white woman. Many years ago I owned a black VW Corrado — great, fun little car. The windows were a little tinted. I had no idea, when I bought it, that it had a reputation for being popular with black men. I got stopped allll the time while I owned this car, but I didn’t think much of it, because the car lends itself to aggressive driving, and I was young and felt above the traffic laws that apply to mere mortals. The thing I did notice, though, was that each time I was stopped, police approached my car very differently than they had when I’d driven my beige Honda previously. They always came up against the car in a defensive posture, with their hand on their gun. Once they saw a white woman was driving, they relaxed, though they did often act angrier and more annoyed than I’d remembered from the Honda.

    I never had any truly bad confrontations at these stops, but it was clear to me that, by the time I was interacting with these officers, they were already agitated, just from, presumably, the assumptions they’d made at the sight of the car. I also never got off with a warning in that car like I sometimes had in the Honda.

    I don’t pretend to know whether those officers came by their apprehensive assumptions about my car from honest experience or not. What I do know from personal experience, though, is that when you approach any situation with heightened adrenaline and anxiety, everything that happens is interpreted through that lens, and interactions that would feel benign in other circumstances feel dire. It’s easy for me to imagine how set up for failure that whole scenario would have been had I actually been a young black man, and not a dorky-looking white woman.

    Like

    1. Thank you. The more people that talk about this the better.

      Like

    2. Barbara ORoark says:

      I once bought a beautiful pale yellow PT Cruiser. I loved that car-it was so much fun to drive! But after awhile I realized that I seemed to be being pulled over a lot. I wasn’t speeding or driving recklessly. My black co-workers later told me that was a popular car among African Americans.

      Like

      1. Thank you. I never realized that it carried over into car models. It’s nuts.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Ken Draper says:

    I too own a black standard poodle, and a white one too. When I’m in a restaurant, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen patrons park and get out of their car, look over at mine, do a double-take and laugh when they see it’s two poodles sitting in the front seats. Some have even taken pictures. But boy, I am so sorry this happened to you! The closest I ever came to it was in South Dakota at night and I had the black one in the car with me. I got pulled over by the SD State police for a headlight problem. He looked in the back and saw Suzette sitting there. “Is that one of those giant poodles?” he asked. That was nothing compared what you went through. We live in chilling times.

    Like

    1. I taught Charming to sit behind the wheel and wave to people. There must hundreds of photos of him. The kids at the ice shop get a big kick out of it. Working with Henry on it.

      Like

      1. Candace says:

        Thank you for writing this and sharing.

        May it have as big an impact on all who read it, fueling the pushing make changes as we can as a society.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Laurie G. says:

    I think many white people have a problem with the term “white privilege.” Here’s a list that’s been around for a while that will help you understand that term more fully. The author is Peggy McIntosh, a white woman, and it’s called “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” It’s helped me a great deal and I used to give it out in my teaching days.

    Click to access mcintosh.pdf

    Like

    1. Anonymous says:

      Thank you so much for sharing! Truly illuminating!!

      Like

  21. DSP says:

    Thank you for sharing your story!

    In addition to the vulnerability of being pulled over without cause (though I know they can use the excuse stated), the fear, frustration & confusion, I see the complete lack of awareness of their actions and the doubling down of shaming you for their racist mistake. All of this is the reason it’s so difficult to break thru the barrier to elicit systemic change.

    Full disclosure, my husband is a retired asst Chief, who is unfortunately, not a typical police officer (everyone that meets him says “he’s too nice to be a cop”-how incredibly telling (& sad) is that statement!?!). He’s one of those that knows the problems are deep rooted and has worked for change his entire career.

    What I perceive is that so many officers can not step back and admit to the problems, like someone in a dysfunctional family can’t look at all the cracks in the veneer; because if they do, everything they know will unravel and no matter how toxic the system, it’s familiar and all they know. This is not stated as an excuse, just awareness, and a fervent hope the system, and society that props it up, will change-Well, has to change.

    Again, thank you for your story, hoping it might help some “get it”!

    Like

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I agree that the nature of policing has changed over the past few decades. There are good cops out there. My next post is going to focus on this.

      Like

    2. Janet Givens says:

      An excellent summary of how I see the problem also. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Claire says:

    The huge elephant in this conversation to me, is you ” taught ” your beautiful black poodle to lay down in the seat.
    I don’t know why I found this to be so stunning.
    I understand why you did it, just kinda gut wrenching to me.

    Like

    1. I have different car now and Henry likes to ride in the very back anyway. Charming, he’s a white Poodle, sometimes rides shotgun, but this car has different seats and Charming isn’t as tall. It is not fun being pulled over by the police.

      Like

  23. Deborah McBain says:

    Thank you for this perfect explanation of our racist culture. You mentioned Dearborn In your post and in a comment with implication that my community is perhaps, most racist of all. As a lifelong Dearborn resident, I know well the cruel legacy that the Mayor Hubbard years left. Our diverse community has worked hard to try to overcome that legacy of nearly 50 years ago. I hope we’ve made progress despite the persisting reputation.
    https://www.downriversundaytimes.com/2020/06/04/peaceful-protest-at-dearborn-police-station-draws-diverse-crowd/

    Like

    1. Thank you. I never said most racist of all, you said that. Dearborn still has issues. Read the links to stories to other articles on this thread. They removed the statue of Hubbard June 6, 2020. It is hard to hear that about your home town, I understand that. It was hard for me when I realized how racist my hometown was when I was a kid and is today. Do some research on it, talk to some people of color. Dearborn is a beautiful city and I do think progress has been made. But more needs to be done. It’s not just Dearborn, it’s Allen Park, Trenton, Riverview, Wyandotte, Lincoln Park, Ecorse, Southgate, Gross Isle, Taylor, Southfield, Livonia, Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, Royal Oak, Huron, all the suburbs need to stop and look at themselves and their cities and ask the people of color, what is it like to live here?

      Like

  24. Anonymous says:

    Read “Incognito – The Secret Lives of the Brain,” by David Eagleman. Our brains stitch together perceptions based on an astonishingly small quantity of real time visual input and a corresponding amount of prior “knowledge.” The cops’ brains may have actually “seen” a black person. The science backs this.

    Like

    1. Thank you! I have no doubt they saw a black man.

      Like

      1. Terri Mercer says:

        Their actions, once they actually “saw” a black person? I thought this story was maybe trivial on the face of it, but it is not.

        Like

      2. Thank you. I tried to make it an easy read with a bit more to it if you cared to look. It’s what I do as a playwright. So much harder to do in this form.

        Like

      3. R Denise Myers says:

        I am totally sharing this article! And you are right: As a Black woman, I don’t need such enlightenment. However, hopefully, your article will reach people whose first responses to Black people being stopped for no good reason would be,”Well, what was he/she doing to get stopped?”

        Like

    2. Terri Mercer says:

      Need help option here.

      Like

    3. Andy Burgdorf says:

      And what if it actually was a black man? Would that justify those stops?

      Like

      1. Crysania says:

        No. Of course not. I don’t think she’s saying that. There are so many white people who think that black people who are pulled over “deserved it” and that it can’t be because the cops are racists. She got pulled over for the flimsiest of reasons (3mph under the speed limit impeding traffic?) and it’s all because they THOUGHT there was a black guy in the car. She (and by extension the “black guy” in the car) did nothing wrong at all. The stops were not justified whether or not that passenger was actually the black guy they thought they saw. Sadly, some people need PROOF that we have a problem. I suppose this would speak to that proof.

        Like

      2. Crysania, yes some do need proof. That’s why I finally wrote this. Thank you for your reply.

        Like

  25. Deb Galloway says:

    I was driving through Detroit, and got pulled over for driving to slow, looking for a street. Was about 3 miles under limit. Anyway my Black Lab was in the passenger seat. He asks me why I was driving so slow. Told him I was looking for a street He starts yelling at me that I was blocking traffic. There was no one on the road and me, I did say this to him. My dog started growling at him, cause he was yelling. The cop threatened to shoot my dog. My dog never moved from the seat. I think I was lucky he didn’t. The cop never asked me for ID. He told me to keep my dog under control and left. All I could think of was did that really just happen. With your story I wonder if the cop pulled me over for the same reason. All I know is the cop really scared me.

    Like

    1. Anonymous says:

      on top of mistaking your black lab for a black human, he had the nerve to yell and threaten a woman.

      Like

  26. Neigh says:

    By sharing this story, you have done so much good. Thank you so much for using this experience to shed light on racism. A perfect illustration of how racial profiling is very real and very intense.

    Like

  27. dfrano says:

    Thank you. Just, thank you! I appreciate the risk you took (as shown by some of the comments) in writing this piece. Well done!

    Like

  28. Bin says:

    As soon as I started reading I knew what the problem was. A friend’s standard poodle used to ride in the passenger seat of my truck – she stayed with me as my friend traveled a lot. It is amazing how much they look and feel like a person sitting beside you! I’ve known and parented a lot of dogs, but that human-like poodle size and carriage is unique. I still giggle at the memory of turning and looking eye to eye with my patient, mellow passenger. A sitting standard poodle in a car has an uncanny presence. My girl was white, but I can see so clearly how Merlin was mistaken for a black man. The unholstering of the guns is so chilling. I am an older, gray haired white woman and I am afraid of the police. I have been harassed by the police, yelled at and threatened because I didn’t seem servile and meek enough. I had the nerve to ask, or even answer, questions. I have been treated with kindness on a few occasions, but the displays of a kind of nasty power left me shaken and afraid as my primary and lasting response to being singled out on suspicion of wrong doing. It’s not protect and serve, it’s check and punish, sometimes benignly, more often not. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Like

    1. Thank you for your response and being another Standard Poodle person. I now have 2 Standard Poodles, Henry, the black one, I taught to lay down in the car. He is a tall dog as well. Charming, the white one, is not tall enough to be mistaken for a person.

      Also, thank you for mentioning there are good cops, because I believe most of them are good. I think the police need to be de-militarized. More Andy Taylor and less Seal Team Six.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Jon says:

      Such a brilliant story! I had a standard black poodle as
      Well- he would usually sit upright in drivers seat while I ran into the local store. One day, while I was buying flowers
      For my wife, a lady entered the shop asking if someone owned the Volvo out front with a poodle? My heart raced! Yes, I acknowledged it was mine. She proceeded to tell me she parked behind me and walked up to the half open window to ask the lady driver where she got her hair done…. only to discover it was a DOG! Beautiful hair, she laughed…. we had a good chuckle! So my story is not frightening but validates how poodles can seem
      So human from behind! ❤️ Love your version and sorry we have to acknowledge such racism!!

      Like

      1. I get this a lot. Merlin had a decent coat of hair, but my current black Poodle has a show coat. Big difference. If you look at my About Page, you will see Henry, Charming and GG.

        Like

  29. What would have happened if they had been right and you had a black male friend or relative with you??? I’m sorry for each scary experience you had and for your loss. Thanks for sharing this story! I hope somehow it goes viral. I will be sharing it.

    Like

    1. Jeanine, exactly. Or what If the Poodle made the wrong move?

      Like

    2. Susan Rodeck says:

      Very interesting story. I will be sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Carla Kelly says:

    I’d say you were in good hands with Merlin. I had a Kansas friend who owned or was owned by a white standard poodle. When I went to her home for the first time, she introduced us. I don’t believe I had ever seen a poodle of that size before. The old gent was polite, but firm that I not get between him and his owner. I respected that and we got along just fine. Thanks for sharing your wonderful, frightening, learning experience with us. We need our Merlins.

    Like

    1. Thank you! I now have 2 Standard Poodles; one black and one white.

      Like

  31. John Karlsson says:

    I got pulled over one night shortly after I bought a right hand drive Land Rover. I hadn’t had it long enough to discover that the rear lights weren’t working, so the reason for stopping me was legitimate (and helpful). The cop approached on the left side and almost jumped out of his shoes when he saw no driver. Too bad I didn’t have one of my Portuguese Water Dogs riding shotgun.

    Like

    1. Thank you for sharing that.

      Like

    2. mjgolch says:

      I would have loved to be with you on that stop!

      Like

      1. Thank you! Maybe we can take Henry and cruise Dearborn. J/k. I think it would be dangerous.

        Huron must have put the word out not to stop the lady in the old grey van with the black man because it’s a Poodle. I continued to drive through Huron for another two years with Merlin, they did not pull me over again. I’d like to hear that briefing.

        Liked by 1 person

  32. Thank you for this important look at how idiotic racial profiling is. We all come to our realizations in different times and ways, and your story is an important one. Much appreciated.

    Like

    1. Sharon, thank you for reading and your thoughtful comments. I felt it was time to tell this story.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Janet Givens says:

    Thank you for your honest accounting of how rampant racial profiling is. Imagine being THAT afraid of someone you don’t know, Only because of the hairstyle or skin color. How did law enforcement become so ….??? What is the word? Timid, paranoid, pathetic? I have been grateful I was born white for a very long time, though sometimes I do wish I weren’t; I’d much rather not have all the Puritan baggage that comes with my whiteness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your honest thoughtful comment. I can’t get used to the expression, ‘white privilege.’ Because I certainly do not feel privileged. When I hear that I think of a white person who can afford to buy $1500 purses. I can barely afford to buy groceries. But I get it. I try not to use it because I feel it gets up the backs of a lot of white people. I’m working through it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Blair Stone Sr. says:

        Nice story, and well told. However….based on your stated goal of becoming a better writer, I offer a constructive comment : Take just a little more time at the end to proofread. There were several word omissions.

        Like

      2. I just reread it. I added the last paragraph earlier today. I will go over it again.

        Like

      3. Okay I think I got them all. If there are anymore, I don’t want to know about it. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Jenn says:

        I can understand why you’d associate privilege with financial security. but think of privilege as you being able to leave ticket free, criminal record free, unharmed and alive every time you were stopped by those idiot police officers. think of privilege as the reason you were being stopped had absolutely nothing to do with you in the first place. it was what your dog represented in the cops imagination. i think a lot of white people who aren’t well off or have had valid hardships get offended by the word privilege itself but it’s not meant to disqualify your personal strifes but to highlight how your race in itself won’t be the cause of your problems and will actually help you out in situations.

        Thank you for sharing your story! and RIP to your dog

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Thank you for speaking on this. This is why it is so hard to talk about this. It is hard to find words on both sides that don’t bring up strong feelings. I keep pushing down my knee-jerk reaction, “I’m not privileged,” each time hear it. I think about all the things I do have that others don’t simply because I’m white. It’s not easy changing the habit of a lifetime.

        Like

      6. Janet Givens says:

        “White privilege” doesn’t mean whites necessarily have it easy. It means the things that caused whatever struggles we have or had, never included the color of our skin. That is such a foreign concept to so many of us; I know it’s hard to get our heads around it. Thank you for trying, and for owning the struggle you have with the term. That feels honest.

        Liked by 1 person

  34. You have a typo:

    “He asked me to take the dot out of the vehicle.”

    I’m pretty sure you mean “dog.”

    Also a more minor typo:

    “I wanted to rage at some one.”

    This should be “I wanted to rage at someone.”

    Like

    1. Janet, first thank you. There are others.
      Nothing disheartens a writer more than to work very hard on a piece and have someone say, “You spelled ‘it’ wrong on page two.” If you like to proofread, send me an email through my contact form. My autocorrect always changes someone to some one. Sometimes I catch it and sometimes I don’t. I keep correcting as I find mistakes. I swear they jump in after I hit publish.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. P K says:

        The take home message from Jana J Monji was to point out typos? All I can say is, just wow! As a professional writer, typos and grammatical errors come with the territory. This is a blog about your personal experience. It is well written and is very on-point in the current climate. Thank you for sharing it.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. PK, I am a playwright and have worked with other professional writers for over 20 years. I’m still a bad speller and as my eyes grow worse my ability to see typos is about the same. I’m used to it.

        Like

      3. What is important is the content! Thank you for recognizing our everyday life 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Monica says:

      What did you LIKE about her post?

      Like

  35. Richard Fox says:

    So infuriating but so well written. Keep it up.

    Like

    1. Thank you Richard. Way out of my comfort zone, but I thought white people need to start talking about this stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

  36. Vachi2 says:

    Honestly. If it keeps happening, and you can afford the time and frustration, insist on the ticket every time. Don’t let them let you off the hook. Take that ticket, and then insist on contesting it with the judge instead of paying the fine. Make those officers keep showing up in court to explain themselves. Heck. A lot of attorneys would probably really enjoy the chance to take you as a client pro bono for these appearances.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I had realized why they stopped me as they stopped me, I would have filed a written complaint. It never dawned on me until a few months after the last stop why I was pulled over.

      Like

      1. alice says:

        I did that in Philadelphia quite a while ago, Frank Rizzo’s hugely racist regime. I checked the box on the back that would cause the officer to be in court that day. I went, the officer didn’t. The judge read what the ticket was about, then said, “What are you doing here?” and dismissed me.
        I was so peeved at being pulled into their circus. I wanted to look that officer in the eye and hear what justification he could come up with. I missed a morning of work for that.
        p.s. I am white, female, was mid-20s at the time.

        Like

    2. Anonymous says:

      I like that solution!! I wonder if it would work. It would be almost worth it to get another black standard, just to nail em!

      Like

      1. I do not recommend it. I do have another black Standard, but I taught him not to ride sitting up in the seats.

        Like

  37. Lorrie Lowe says:

    You had me until your comment about Dearborn. As someone who was born and raised there, and still has family (some are police) and friends that live there, YOU are part of the problem! Yes, Dearborn was a segregated community while I was growing up and the Mayor, Orville Hubbard, was a racist. But the man has not been mayor since 1978 (42 years!) and has been dead since 1982. For you to make the offensive comment “I was so angry I wanted to drive to Dearborn at night with Merlin in the passenger seat and create a big stink when I got pulled over. “Call the news!” I’d shout!”, perpetuates the reputation that Dearborn has tried hard to change over the last 40 years. When was the last time you were in Dearborn? Did you ever consider that maybe you are just a lousy driver?

    Like

    1. You are completely missing the point. It is not about me or my driving. These officers were prepared to use force on a dog. They did not properly assess the situation. They saw what looked like an Afro and created a reason to stop me. If it were my driving why have I not been pulled over once in the five years since Merlin’s been gone? Sorry you were offended, but I was being honest about my thoughts. The few people I did tell this to all suggested I drive through Dearborn and see if I get stopped. I did not do it. If you’re that upset about about a single comment that shows your hometown in a negative light based on it’s history, think of how Black Americans feel being thought of as likely criminals because of the color of their skin. Dearborn still has a reputation for racial profiling. I heard a Dearborn officer say over the police scanner a few weeks ago, “They need to build a Trump boarder wall along Outer Drive.” Has it really changed or has it changed in way to make white people feel better about it?

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Evy says:

        Cynthia! Thank you for sharing your story! I Found your blog post incredibly well intentioned and nice to read. I see how this can be an approachable way for a lot of passively racist people to understand what is happening. It also highlights a lot of the work well intentioned non-racist white people in the US still need to do.
        In my experience the words “I’m not trying to offend anyone” are usually followed by offensive words. It usually signifies someone hasn’t taken the time to be self critical and introspective. So not surprisingly, I found your post was missing how you’re confronting your white privilege. How did what happened to you change you?
        I encourage you to do research on how you can use your journey and this story to be a force for change.
        The tone often comes off as “this happened to a white lady you better believe it now”. I don’t know you and haven’t read anything else you’ve written but I don’t think this was your intention. I wish you would have said more about black stories and highlighted the fact that black stories shouldn’t be dismissed and regularly are. I was also surprised by the ending, “how do we change it?”. There are SO many resources out there on what we can do, I encourage you to research some that pertain to your region and share them with your readers. Thank you for sharing! 🥰

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I understand what you are saying and the first draft did include a lot about my confronting of the racial bias I was taught from childhood. It was of the “everyone is equal- silence” variety. But the post was much to long. The reason I wrote ‘it was not my intention to offend’ was because I may still have bias I do not see. As far as confronting my white privilege and highlighting black stories, that is an entire series of stories. And I’m not certain I’m the best person to be commenting on black stories anyway as I cannot know their thoughts and feelings and don’t have the hubris to think I do. I would gladly post a story from another viewpoint on my blog.

        I agonized over the title. And I did realize that it sounded like, “Hey this happened to a white person, it’s real,” and I struggled with that. My goal with this piece was to make it short enough for people to read and to get people talking. I was trying to reach the type of people that I grew-up with who are also “everyone is equal, I’m not racist” types.

        Although I like to hear the opinions of POC like Meli, this was written to get white people talking and thinking. The kind that watch the news and say, “Not again,” and change the channel. It seems it’s easier for some to talk about this because a dog is involved and not a person. POC already know this is real.

        My other goal is to get people to see how police work has changed in last couple of decades. This does that just a little.

        I have a project I am working on to make a change in housing law that will help to break the eviction cycle that keeps many, many people in poverty. More on this later.

        Until recently, my blog was focused on writing. I have been changing over to include the things I care about. You will hear more about my journey confronting my racial bias. This type of writing is new to me. And so is figuring out how to make a change to the law. Not sure where to start.

        I always end my posts with a question. I thought that was the best one at the moment.
        I hope you will follow my blog and let me know how I’m doing with the other posts.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Evy, I made a few small edits to the post based on your feedback. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Anonymous says:

        I think the “I’m white so you can believe this story, UNFORTUNATELY is necessary for some people. They MIGHT believe something told by a white person that they wouldn’t if told by a POC. Sonif bbn it makes some Privileged person begin to understand what POC go through, so be it.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Richard says:

      Honey, Dearborn is a racist pile of garbage. So sorry that it hurts your little white heart to hear it but you’re part of the problem. Here’s a reminder of how wonderful your Dearborn police force is. https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/wayne/2018/02/15/dearborn-pays-settle-2016-fatal-police-shooting/341165002/

      Liked by 1 person

    3. kwcrosby says:

      Telling the truth is never part of the problem. If it happened in Dearborn, it happened in Dearborn. Are you suggesting she hide that?

      Like

      1. Actually, I was never stopped in Dearborn. I was stopped three times in Huron Township, once in Flatrock and once in Monroe County. I only mentioned Dearborn because of it’s well-know reputation for racial profiling. I felt if I drove thru Dearborn at night with Merlin in the car I would be stopped and could make the big stink I should have made.

        Liked by 1 person

    4. Wow., What a totally tone-deaf comment. Clearly the problem of racism still exists in Dearborn, no matter how many Nice White Ladies say otherwise.

      This article perfectly illustrates the problem, IMO.

      Like

    5. I don’t think Cynthia has anything to apologize for. Sorry but Dearborn, Mich., has always had a reputation for being racist. Way after Hubbard. I’ve experienced it there myself several times. Even saw the hateful looks an interracial couple received in that town – and that was in the late 80’s! Maybe Dearborn has changed now, I don’t know. After those experiences, I was turned off on going there. So what have you being doing to change that perception?

      Like

  38. masercot says:

    I loved Travels with Charlie. Actually, pretty much ANY Steinbeck except Grapes of Wrath…

    Like

    1. Do you remember the part where he talks about wanting to see what was happening in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement and not being able to because of Charlie?

      Like

    2. John Steinbeck was a friend of my husband’s family (hubby’s great uncle was his college roommate). He certainly did write about some hard truths.

      Like

      1. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have; it was excellent.

        Like

  39. Meli Nicholson says:

    Hi Cynthia, this is Kim’s friend Meli from Queens, I don’t know if you remember me but as a poc I’m not at all surprised by this. It is beyond frustrating and quite soul crushing. On a lighter note I just wanted to say that Merlin is gorgeous and I’m sad to hear he passed.
    Another thing to note is he was obviously very well trained, how would those scenarios have played out if he had been anything like my high strung mutt and started barking or God forbid growling. Dogs can sense danger and they are protective.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Meli, you are a very memorable person. I remember you very well. And thank you.

      Merlin would bark at other dogs, but not at people. I have a white Standard and a black Standard now. Henry, the black one, is also a tall dog, but I have trained him to ride in the back laying down. It was not fun getting pulled over. But you know us white people can be stupid about this stuff. I was very angry when it dawned on me.

      Like

  40. This is so illustrative of how real racial profiling is. All because you have a black poodle in a van seat.

    When you told me about this back then, I was scared for you. What if this had escalated because the cop believed you were hiding someone? Obviously he was ready to take action–well before he should be ready to act. Obviously, he hadn’t properly appraised the situation. He missed that it was a dog.

    Yet, at least 2 cops unholstered their guns at what? The sight of a fuzzy black head of hair that resembles an afro? What did that afro do exactly to warrant the need for a gun potentially? If a cop is prepared to flip out on a poodle–a poodle that could not possibly be doing anything suspicious in the same manner as a human–what chance does an African-American person have in that situation?

    Afros are not a crime. And they sure don’t tell a cop how criminally you are behaving.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I didn’t think of that, it is a point well taken.

      Like

  41. Sue Jay says:

    Wow, I didn’t see where this story was going til the end. I’ve recieved an impending traffic from Monroe Sheriff and pulled over in Huron Township for 5mph over. Monroe Sherriffs are jerks by the way. Good writing. Gave me goosebumps

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Sue. Appreciate the read!

      Like

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