In the wake of the Dallas shootings, people everywhere are making an effort to understand each other better. One among the many is Louizandre Dauphin, who took to Instagram to share his story of being discriminated against in an effort to help people understand what is an all-too-familiar experience for many black Americans — being stopped by law enforcement for doing completely innocuous things.
On July 7, Dauphin, a former high school English teacher, posted on Instagram about being stopped by Canadian police. The stop occurred after Dauphin had spent some time by the ocean reading Timothy Keller and C.S. Lewis in his car. He said the cop who pulled him over told him that people had called to report that "a suspicious black man in a white car was parked at the Wharf for a couple hours."
Dauphin, who had gone to read by himself to blow off steam after reading about the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile shootings, noted that the officer was kind and respectful. But when he expressed his surprise at being reported for reading in his car, he says the officer smiled and said, "Well, you know, it's a small town."
Not long after Dauphin's post came another near-unbelievable story — this one from Tim Scott, a United States senator from South Carolina. Scott spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday about some of the discrimination he'd experienced as a sitting Senator in his own town. Scott said he was pulled over seven times in a single year.
"Was I speeding sometimes? Sure. But the vast majority of the time I was pulled over for driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood or something else just as trivial," he said.
In his speech, Scott told several stories of being stalked and stopped by police officers for reasons that he said were totally fabricated or completely absurd. Earlier in the week, he spoke about protecting and supporting our law enforcement, but he also emphasized that doing so does not conflict with acknowledging problems with police profiling.
"In many cities and towns across the nation, there is a deep divide between the black community and law enforcement, a trust gap, a tension that has been growing for decades," Scott said. "As a family, one American family, we cannot ignore these issues. Because while so many officers do good, and we should be thankful as I said on Monday, we should be very thankful in support of all those officers that do good. Some, simply, do not."
As we continue the effort to bridge our divides, we hope men like Senator Scott and Mr. Dauphin keep bravely sharing their personal stories.