THE BLOG
07/30/2015 11:37 am ET Updated Jul 30, 2016

Do the Police See Shades of Black?

Shutterstock / Carolina K. Smith MD

Sometimes I feel like I live in my car; it seems that I'm always driving somewhere. I think I just love driving. It's those long drives accompanied by good music, or an audiobook, or just silence to leave room for a more contemplative moment, some thinking time.

This drive was not a peaceful one for me. My heart was heavy. It seems like I cannot turn my head without seeing it somewhere that a black man or woman has died at the hands of law enforcement. To say that it is a scary feeling is a bit of an understatement.

It was during this drive, that I saw a police car in my rearview mirror. A feeling overtook me. This had never happened to me before.

I was terrified.

Why? I clearly didn't have anything to be worried about. There's nothing illegal in my car, I have a current driver's license, insurance and registration. I wasn't gunning it as I am known for doing.

Uh-oh... Wait. What if?

What if they find out about that time I was stopped in the seventh grade for riding a bicycle without a helmet?

Other than that, I've got nothing to worry about. Still, I was scared.

To make things worse, it was like the damn cop could smell my fear like a bloodhound. My heart was beating out of my chest. It was at this exact point, the police car was so close and on my bumper that if I would've stopped, he would've rear-ended me for sure.

I am scared and scratching my head; why the hell is he following me so closely? Is he one of "those" kinds of cops? Could it be that "driving while black" scenario? That does happen.

Just when my heart beat hits a fever pitch, the red and blue lights are flashing bright behind me.

Damn it!

So, I signal to switch lanes and pull over, just as soon as I do the police car blasts right past me. If I have never experienced relief in my life -- I experienced it at that moment. I pulled over and I think I must've blacked out for about a good 30 seconds. God is good.

This goes without saying, but it was a shame that I had to feel that way about the people that are supposed to protect me from criminals, not fear that they would treat me like I'm a criminal merely because of the color of my skin.

I told someone I knew this story the very same evening. According to this person, nothing would've happened to me because I'm too light.

My first thought to this was that it was pure ignorance; one, because this same individual always has something ignorance to say about how "privileged" I am because of my lighter skin shade; two, because it's my belief that racism doesn't see shades. It's literally black or white.

The craziest part was that I was actually finding myself considering this nonsense. Have I been fortunate because I am light-skinned?

Once I snapped back to reality, I realized that I have had my own struggles as a light-skinned black man who speaks using proper English. Even more troubling, this type of thinking is indicative of a divide in the black community.

I've always been aware of the whole "light-skinned vs. dark-skinned" nonsense, and it's ridiculous. Prejudiced people do not see shades.

It was shameful to see how badly Kendrick Lamar was slammed by a self-proclaimed activist for being engaged to a light-skinned woman. You don't have to look very hard in social media to see memes or posts about ignorant stereotypes that pertain to both shades. Also, there's always that horrible thing that is sometimes said to a beautiful woman of a darker shade; "You're beautiful, for a dark-skinned girl."

This belief that a light-skinned man is less likely to be harassed than a man of a darker shade is ignorance at its worst.

The hashtag we all use these days says #BlackLivesMatter -- last time I checked, that wasn't shade specific.

They don't see shades, why should we?