Voices Across the Spectrum: Combating Systemic Racism

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 25, Number 2 (November/ December 2020), pgs. 29-31.

By Andre Davison, Research Technology Manager at Blank Rome LLP

Compassion, empathy, and reaching out to others are key to addressing discriminatory implicit bias.

The tragic incident this summer with George Floyd in Minneapolis brought back memories of my experience with law enforcement 26 years ago that could have dramatically changed my life and the trajectory of my career. My two uncles, my best friend, and I were headed to the beach for the day after my younger uncle’s high school prom. As we made our way through the beach entrance, we were pulled over by the Galveston beach patrol for suspicion of an open container violation.

Unbeknownst to me, my best friend, and my younger uncle, my older uncle had a joint in his possession and was reaching to hide it as the officers approached the car. The officers immediately drew their weapons, and I immediately feared we were going to get shot. Only 16 years old, I was terrified as we were ordered out of the car and placed in handcuffs. Fortunately, my younger uncle was able to diffuse the situation through a conversation with the officers. We were able to leave the beach without any repercussions.

I learned two valuable lessons that day: always keep your hands where police officers can see them and always address police officers with respect.

As I reflect, I realize how fortunate we were to leave those circumstances alive. As our nation saw with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, and others, so many African American men and women don’t live to survive similar encounters with law enforcement.

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