After the blue and red police lights flashed behind his car, Louizandre Dauphin figured he may have added another “prohibited” item to the list of things you can’t do while black: Reading.
Dauphin, 33, a former high school English teacher, had decided to relax last week with a few books at Stonehaven Wharf, a parking lot for fishing boats that’s frequented by tourists to the Canadian province of New Brunswick. He sat inside his Volkswagen Golf hatchback watching the waves and poring over “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis and another book by theologian Timothy Keller.
As he drove home afterward, Dauphin recounted on Instagram, an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police pulled him over, saying someone nearby had called authorities “because … a suspicious black man in a white car was parked at the Wharf for a couple hours. My response, Really? I was just reading a book.”
He snapped two photos that he’d later use for the Instagram post, which says Canada experiences some of the same racial tension that has made headlines in the United States.
In the post, he tells his countrymen “not to get too comfortable on their high horses.” He hashtagged the post #DangerousNegro.
Dauphin, the director of the department of parks, recreation and tourism in the small New Brunswick town of Bathurst, told The Washington Post that he didn’t feel threatened by the officer, who seemed bemused about the situation before letting Dauphin go without incident. Still, he said, the encounter and a handful of previous ones show “we’re not immune to situations like this.”
“There’s still intolerance and suspicion,” he told The Post. “I’ve been pulled over for driving in my own neighborhood. I’ve gotten asked where I’m from and when I tell them I’m from my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, the question is where are you really from? As if I can’t actually be from here.”
The suspicion that American police target people based on race spawned the phrase “driving while black” and led to countless offshoots — like waiting for a schoolbus while black, throwing a kindergarten temper tantrum while black and drinking iced tea while black.
Dauphin said other Canadians he’s talked to believe their country doesn’t have similar racial issues, although some commentators have questioned whether Canada is truly more tolerant.
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SOURCE: Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
The Washington Post