"I'll give you a place to stay for the night."
This was not a friendly suggestion from a concerned friend, but a threat from a North Carolina State Trooper. Early Sunday morning, around 3 a.m., as we, three Latinas and two African-American men, were walking down Towerview towards Wannamaker, a State Trooper began to follow us in his car . We really did not notice him as we crossed the street until his stare was obviously not on the road before him, but on us as we continued to our car. We shrugged off his special attention because he was just another part of a daily reminder of what it means to be Latino or African-American in a predominantly Anglo environment. Although this routine mentality is a sad one, we have neither the energy nor the time to confront the authoritative power that negates our existence. But what motivates this letter is that the acceptance of this behavior as casual and tolerable, when it is not and will not be accepted, can result in apathy and the demise of people of color.
Far from through, the State Trooper made a right off of Towerview onto Wannamaker where we had to cross again to get to the parking lot. He then reversed the car so that he could face us and offer us a place to stay for the night. His exact sentiments as he came out of the car were, "Get on the sidewalk or I'll give you a place to stay for the night."
Five Duke students who were sober and calmly walking to their car cannot be the most pressing candidates for the attention of a North Carolina State Trooper. Yet, on an early Sunday morning, there were actual crimes that remained unanswered because a State Trooper was waiting for his expectations to be fulfilled.
Almost every person of color has their anecdotes of racism in their community at Duke and elsewhere, but people of color should not carry the weight of their experiences alone. We must share them as often as possible so we can recognize our collective struggle and rise to the challenge of being a person of color in this fantasy world we call Duke and this community we call the United States of America.
and three others
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