A friend of mine just sent me this. And first, it brought back the memory of hearing my parents talk about the “night riders” they hid from in the floor boards of the house. An uncle would be partially paralyzed by a beating from them one night. So this is my history here.

And then, I remembered an African engineer friend I met when I moved out West in the 80s with my very blond German boyfriend. His name was Vukile, the African man. He had a beautiful sports car, and had amassed a glove compartment full of speeding tickets, handed out by chuckling white cops nearly every single day he drove to and from the power plant at which he and my German bf both worked. Rural AZ. Stereotypical rural AZ.

It was a game they played, the cops. Stopping “that boy.” In part because he was driving “that car.” But one day, my German bf drove “that car,” because he could not quite bring himself to believe it was a racial issue. And sure enough, he was stopped. The tinted windows hid the fact that this big Aryan wet dream of a German was driving, not the ebony skinned African they expected.

The cop chuckled differently this time, and told my bf that he’d always known “that boy” couldn’t have owned “that car.”

But my bf said, “No, it’s my friend’s car. I’m just driving it today.”

And the cop’s smile faded as he strolled up to my bf, stared into his big blue eyes, and said, “You got the wrong kinda friends, son.”

The stuff of those Baldwin and Morrison novels, indeed…

Award-winning former features reporter for the Chicago Sun Times and Arizona Daily Star, HuffPo contributor and author.

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