Black Lives Matter Billboard in Livonia Calls Out Racial Profiling
In a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, a grassroots group called Livonia Citizens Caring about Black Lives installed a billboard on I-96 that says "Driving While Black? Racial Profiling Ahead. Welcome to Livonia." The city of Livonia is 90% white.
For those of you who are confused about the "______ While Black" phrases that have been used to describe the shocking inequity that has been at the forefront of the nation's mind over these many weeks, let me help you. "______ While Black" is doing a normal, everyday activity, but being objected to unnecessary scrutiny and prejudice due to your societal "otherness." For example, if I, a white woman, get pulled over for my taillight being out, I'm likely issued a warning to get it taken care of by a certain date. Then, I'm free to go. A POC with the same taillight out will likely be removed from their vehicle for a full search and roadside interrogation; "What are you doing in this neighborhood?", "Where were you going?", "Will we find any drugs in this vehicle?"
Before someone says, "Well don't do anything illegal and you have nothing to worry about!" Driving with a taillight out, although pretty innocuous, is technically illegal. Is that worth getting wrestled to the ground over? Is that worth getting killed over? George Floyd tried passing a fake $20 bill. According to Criminal Defense Lawyer, that carries a sentence of jail time and a fine, not a death penalty. Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down Jogging While Black. Breona Taylor was killed for Sleeping While Black. Neither of those activities illegal. Driving is not illegal. But every Black friend I have has a story or two about being pulled over for nothing more than they "seemed suspicious" to the officer.
Obviously a billboard like this is quite polarizing, but if this peaceful sign doesn't start necessary conversations about the inequity POC face doing everyday activities, and the fear they have of being seen in the wrong place at the wrong time by the wrong person, I don't know what will.
The billboard is erected in Redford Township, just south of Interstate 96, and will remain up for another week.