Guest Blogger: Dr. Linda Arnell Mount
Mother of Dr. Saving Lives (Dr. Geoffrey Mount-Varner)
All Black men are at risk of great danger from an encounter with policeman when they get behind the wheel of a car. My recent experience with my grandson provides concrete evidence of not only the importance of teaching but preaching the “Eleven Must Strategies to Survive an Encounter With the Police.”
My grandson is the child of highly successful and totally involved parents. As an involved grandparent with considerable experience and fanatical commitment to rearing three children and influencing the rearing of nine grandchildren to become highly contributing members of society, I felt certain that we had sufficiently prepared our children for the reality of driving for Black men.
I took my responsibilities seriously and routinely drilled into my son (Dr. Saving Lives), particularly when he was younger, and grandsons and granddaughters, especially when they were new drivers, the strategies listed in this book. In spite of this, the following example reveals why your work is never done when it comes to protecting your children and grandchildren. My grandson came to pick me up to join his family as we prepared to leave for a family vacation. As we returned back to his home in an upper middle-class neighborhood, my son called to tell us that there had been a home invasion on the street intersecting theirs. I was not surprised then to see numerous police cars with sirens and lights flashing. I was also not too surprised when they signaled us to pull over. What did surprise me was my grandson’s reaction as the policeman approached our car from the back. He actually turned around to get his driver’s license out of his jacket pocket in the back seat. I immediately stated in a firm voice,” turn around and put your hands on that steering wheel”. At that same time, I saw the policeman pull his gun out and aim it at my grandson. As he neared our car, he saw a grandmotherly looking woman sitting in the passenger side and I explained that we lived on the street and pointed to my daughter’s home. He politely put his gun away and explained to us what had happened, why there were so many police cars in the neighborhood and why they pulled us over. He explained that the young men who had committed the offense were described as young Black men who fit the description of my grandson.
His explanation for why he pulled us over was understandable. It was my grandson’s reaction that alarmed me. No one could have convinced me before I witnessed it myself that my grandson did not know that he was putting himself at great risk by turning to look in the backseat as the policeman approached our car. I thought, haven’t we taught this boy the proper procedures which must be followed at all times if he is stopped by the police? Looking down the barrel of that gun convinced me that my grandson came perilously close to becoming a statistic that day.
And yes, we had told all of them the proper strategies that must be followed many, many times. But just as with most important information, particularly when given to young people, this vital survival information must be repeated over and over. It is not too much to remind your child every time he leaves home that there are basic rules that must be followed if there is an encounter with police to make it home alive.
On the Book
I think every home must have at least one copy of this book in the home. Every school should make this book mandatory reading and use it as a teaching tool. I would recommend that a rear view mirror hanger be developed to hang before each teenage driver saying, “Keep your hands on the wheel – We need you to Make it Home Alive”. These hangers should be given to every new driver by the Motor Vehicle Administration, schools, churches, community centers, parents and of course, grandparents.
If my grandson could make this wrong move, believe me, any young driver could. I know he had been taught the proper strategies to follow in situations such as the one described here. Because of the protected way he lives his life, he just never really internalized that something like this could actually happen to him.
About Dr. Linda Arnell Mount
Dr. Linda Arnell Mount is a retired member of the Senior Executive Service with the Federal Government. She has 3 children and 9 grand children – 5 boys and 4 girls ranging in age from 6 to 22 years old. Dr. Arnell Mount has two daughters who are both judges and a son who is a physician.