I will never forget his tears.
It’s been nearly a decade, but if I think about it, I can still remember the powerful despair of that conversation. It was the moment that I realized governmental institutions that I trust are terrifying to some of my fellow citizens.
It left me heartbroken, and it shattered my assumption that there was one American experience, especially when it came to dealing with governmental agencies like schools, police and courts.
My friend was a well-dressed professional working in Salt Lake City when he was approached by police officers. In front of his business associates, they told him he matched the description of an armed robbery suspect, and when he tried to explain where he’d been and why it couldn’t be him, not a single colleague spoke up for him.
Humiliated, scared and angry, he went with them, answered their questions and was ultimately released.
Long after that experience, however, it smoldered in him, how he had no choice, how he had no recourse, and most insulting, how he looked nothing like the man arrested for the crime. He wasn’t the right height.
His clothes didn’t match witness descriptions, and he was not in the vicinity of the robbery.
The only thing he had in common with the suspect was his skin color. Both he and the suspect were black.
For me, it was a seminal moment.
Looking into his eyes as he tried to describe how it felt to be pulled over by police, repeatedly, for no sound legal reason but because he was in the wrong neighborhood, driving the wrong car or acting in a way that “scared” someone else, I felt his anger, and I felt his fear.
I felt ashamed and helpless.
As the white daughter of a police officer, I desperately wanted to change his experience. I wanted him to feel the sense of security that I have when I’m in the presence of police.
But, I thought, what can I do to change any of that?
In August of last year, then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand with his teammates for the national anthem. A week later, he and a couple of other players took a knee during the pre-game ritual.
This was followed by outrage, questions and support.
When asked about it, Kaepernick said he was protesting police brutality, especially the deadly…