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Stopping Traffic

Living in a city dependent on vehicles for daily travel has its pitfalls. On Thursday, I experienced one of the more annoying ones – a fender-bender car accident in the middle of a busy highway.

The whole mess was my fault entirely. The only reason I bring it up is because of an exchange I had with the other driver. When I failed to get out of my car and immediately apologize to her, she demanded to know if it was because of her skin color.

She is Black. I am so blinding white you have to squint to even look at me during the winter months.

My first reaction: Wa-wa-what? Really?

No, ma'am. The only reason I didn't get out of my car is because my two kids were in the backseat crying. I had OnStar on the phone along with the Michigan State Police. And I was overwhelmed by the whole thing. What she looked like honestly didn't matter to me; I was just making sure no one was hurt.

I babbled that to her, telling her how her color is the last thing I was thinking about. For the record, I did say sorry. I got out of my car to apologize the right way, as I tell my son: looking at her directly in the eye and with a sincere voice. We traded insurance information, and I told Carla again that her skin had nothing to do with my behavior. Rather, I don't do well under pressure. That is all. I would have been a wreck (literally and figuratively) no matter if she was white, Black, Pacific Islander or anything else.

She reminded me that she was a mother as well, and I had better get some better manners. Too true.

Eventually, we took a collective deep breath, and civility took over. We stood together at the side of I-75 and I-94 waiting for the police report. We talked about how we were actually heading to the same city. She was now late for work, and her cell phone was out of minutes. It was not a good day for her, either. Carla used my phone to call her boss, and I was happy to a little bit useful. She clucked over the dripping radiator fluid coming from my crumpled bumper, I commented on the dent and scratches on her fender. When the paperwork was done, we said goodbye like two rational adults.

Looking back, I'm guessing we were just two shocked (and irritated) individuals. Does she really think I'm a racist, or was she just really mad because her day was thrown out of whack? Did she have another incident happen to her where she perceived a race bias? Are people here that outwardly cruel to one another? I'd like to think that in a different circumstance, she and I would have been rather decent to one another.

As for my deep thoughts…My son noticed little to nothing of this exchange. When I got back into the car, he simply suggested we should have stayed at the Science Center a little longer instead of coming home. Then he threw his hat at me. I threatened a Time Out, and we limped down Harper Avenue toward the East Side. I hope Carla got home safe as well.

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  • 1

    I'm sorry that you were in an accident (and thankful no one was hurt). I'm also sorry that even if it was a result of the shock of the event, that anyone's mind immediately jumps to racial bias. It's a sad comment on our current society that we still have not progressed very far from the 1950's tensions... Obviously this needs to change. It will NOT change with politics and speeches, unfortunately. It has to change at home. It has to change at the very heart of our culture. Here's hoping that we learn to look past perceived bias and skin color and towards human decency and dignity.

  • 2

    I'm sure she did.

    And rudeness can cut both ways.

    You have seen me write about my wonderful Black wife.

    Our accident was different. She was killed and I got the call in the night.

    And when I went to the police station I discovered that they were not going to charge the young man who was high on stuff and slammed into the Durango at a very high rate of speed... no skid marks at all.

    His head must have been very close to my wife's when it happened. And when I was allowed to see her, a plastic tube was thrust into her mouth and I could not kiss her beautiful lips one last time..

    As I said earlier, I have witnessed most insulting things foisted upon Black people, even today. So it is easy to understand quick misinterpretations.

    And I have seen it in myself with her assistance. Once I was driving and an elderly black woman was about to cross the street and I could have sped past her and Glenda quickly cautioned me so I relaxed and waited and thought about my reactive dismissal that got caught and how we can be so unpolite and unthinking at times.

    Marijuana and Beer are a lethal mix. Do we have a law against driving under the influence of it?

    No. Lawyers and Legislators are such wonderful people.


  • 3

    "When I failed to get out of my car and immediately apologize to her, she demanded to know if it was because of her skin color."

    Karen i have had this same experience happen to me too, although it was not because of an accident on the road. It happed at work when a black woman asked me the price of a piece she wanted, I gave her the price, she asked me why it was so much? I told her that is what it costs, and the next word out of her mouth were the same....

    "is is because I'm black?!"

    I had to step back and chuckle a little... I then told her no it is what it costs to have that piece done. At the time I had a very good regular customer of mine in the chair (who happens to be black) who over heard the whole conversation. Well to make the story short the woman left angry at me, and my customer apologized for the actions of the other.

    I asked her why she would apologize, She told me that not all black people are like that.. I in turn told her that all white people are racist. We had a good laugh about it all and that was that. Sometimes people are just odd, but that does not mean we are all odd. Good story from a personal side of your life.

    Glad to know that no one was hurt either.

  • 4

    I wish we can get Carla's perspective... I bet her reaction had a lot of foundation and history behind it..

    I have experienced all matter of racial slights and contempt for my personhood often it has been intentional and of course many times unintentional.

    I think when one encounters white folks in awkward situations the presence of white privledge is so much a part of theirs and our cultural dna the reactions of people like Carla is a head turner for many whites..

    That of course is the nature of and life in our nation given our ugly racial legacy....Racism has both a conscious and unconscious optics...I really would like to hear and read Carla's version of this incident to get a more objective insight of this matter

    Karen gave us her perspective from the vantage point of a white person I would like Carla to have the same ability to express her perspective here..

  • 5


    Might just as well get Monica Conyers take on it.

    There is nothing quite like a Black Woman's snit. Strawberry experienced one.

    Turn your hair white in a second.

    In the 25 years that I knew my wife she never once pulled one on anyone.

    Now she could get angry over something like when the butcher woman slapped the cut of beef on the top of the counter and splattered her with blood.

    She just quickly demanded a wet cloth to wash the blood off. And you had better believe that the butcher woman complied very quickly.

  • 6


    You know the red octagonal STOP sign that is used around the world... Can you name the City where it was first invented?


  • 7

    BTW Bill's experience with a Black woman are not revelant with this discussion..

    Please can we have an objective chat for once now and then...

    Gee Whiz the Monica Conyer's/Strawberry insults were not what this dialouge needs..

    • 7.1

      Bill is relating a life story that pertains to his experiences, get off his back. You just love to throw your keyboard around here don't you. Never one nice thing to say at all.

  • 8


    Is possible to get Carla's version?

    Have you tried for this commentary?

    I would like to interview her if you have an conflict.

  • 9


    Please respond to my post and questions?? My questions offensive as Carla's reaction??

  • 10


    Please reply.

    Don't you think as a journalist my request that you provide this forum with Carla's version and thoughts regarding this incident the appropriate journalistic posture to take here?

    I am troubled by your lack of response to my posts. WHY Karen????????

  • 11


  • 12


    Really you think my questions are not appropriate?

    Karen provided a one side version and she even posted a reply.

    Why is she not responding?

  • 13


    I shared this thread with a bunch of my friends both white and black and they all agreed that Karen at the basic level should have made some effort to get Carla's perspective on this incident...

    Basic journalism 101 was MIA here..

    So attacking me as delusional certainly means nothing to me especially in a chat forum...Cheap shots come with the medium..

    • 13.1

      if this was a news article that would be a horse of a different color all together... But it's not, It's a blog. Blogs are one sided, as that is their design and intended use by many.

      So you asking to get the other drivers perspective would be good if this were a News article, but its not. Even the "laws" of basic journalism do not really apply to blogs.

  • 14

    Nonsense Karen inserted hearsay into the his blog my writing about what Carla alleged statements..Karen was lacking in the treatment of this saga given the aspect of race..

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