Over the past 42 years, I've driven a lot of miles over interstate highways, farm-to-market roads and a few tracks barely discernible from game trails.
I've averaged driving 20,000 miles a year for more than 40 years, and, based on my math, 40 years times 20,000 miles equals, well a whole lot of driving.
Along the way, I've been stopped by city policemen, county sheriffs and highway patrol officers just a handful of times, mostly for speeding but once for running a stoplight (It was late and traffic was non-existent.), once for an expired registration sticker and once for no apparent reason.
I get nervous when the blue light flashes behind me. I pull over and anxiously begin fumbling in my wallet for my driver's license, registration and proof of insurance.
I assume I will get a ticket. I pray that the fine will be minimal and that the transgression will not be serious enough to convince my insurance carrier to raise my premiums.
Being pulled over by a traffic cop is an unpleasant experience.
But not once in however many times I have been lit up and pulled over have I feared for my life. I have friends who can't say that.
I have been reminded of that stark inequality over the last few weeks as several more — too many more — people of color have died for no reason other than that their skin was darker than mine.
I grew up in a segregated, prejudiced, white privilege South. I did not realize at the time that my working-class upbringing (My dad worked in the cotton mill and managed paycheck to paycheck.) was in any way privileged.
I know better now. I didn't have black friends, since my school did not integrate until I was in 10th grade. We lived in separate neighborhoods, attended different churches and shopped in different stores. Separate but equal excused the exclusions but was a damnable lie.
My first black friend was the pitcher for the American Legion baseball team we played for between my junior and senior year in high school. I was his catcher; we formed a bond.
Maybe that experience began to awaken me to the inequality that existed — still exists —in this country. I grew more aware in college where diversity encouraged acceptance.
It was a start. It wasn't enough. It's still not enough. As a successful, white, senior citizen, I remain privileged, beginning to be aware that my position in life could have been, most certainly would have been, much more difficult to achieve had I been Black, Hispanic or Native American.
As I watched the pain, the anguish, and the frustration of Black Americans the last few days I ask, can I do better? I can. I have to try.
A traffic stop is my inconvenience. To some, it's horrifying.