ROBINSON: How racial disparities can make even a ride of a motorcycle bumpy at best

This column by Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson appeared on the Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Oct. 4.

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

No offense to Rufuses, but I called my big brother’s namesake “Rufus” the day he was born because his face was all wrinkled like a cute old man.

The nickname did not stick and I doubt my nephew even knows I threw it out there.

Somedays that seems like yesterday, but the wrinkles on my forehead tell me otherwise.

My nephew Carl Jr. is now an adult ― tall, dark-skinned, smart and handsome just like his dad.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

I am proud to say he’s an EMT, a state test away from being a full-fledged paramedic.

CJ is a hard-working young man and like many other hard-working young men of any generation, he likes fast things.

My heart skipped a beat the first time I saw him ride up on his Suzuki I-could-not-tell-you-the-make-or-model motorcycle. Yeah, he was wearing a helmet. No, that did not alleviate my worries.

As a former night crime reporter, I’ve been on the scene of more than my fair share of motorcycle crashes. The fact that most were not the fault of the motorcyclist does not help the motorcyclist survive.

The safety thing was not my only concern.

It was the other stuff that comes with being a tall, dark-skinned and handsome young man.

I saw the future the first time I looked into my nephew's little wrinkled face nearly a quarter century ago.

It is one thing if he’s pulled over by the police for speeding or doing one of the many dumb things young men do on fast things, but I worry he will be pulled over not for a crime, but simply for being a tall, dark-skinned young man.

A Stanford University study of nearly 100 million traffic stops between 2001 and 2017 concluded that black drivers are 20 percent more likely to get pulled over than white drivers.

Still the research revealed that "black drivers were less likely to be stopped after sunset, when a ‘veil of darkness’ masks one’s race, suggesting bias in stop decisions. "

And what if that soon-to-be a paramedic nephew of mine does end up in an accident, will he receive the appropriate medical care?

Study after study shows disparages in health care when it comes to black and brown people.

Racial Disparities in Survival Among Injured Drivers, a 2013 study, found that Black and Hispanic people were equally as likely to survive an accident long enough to be treated at a hospital as white people, but among patients who were treated at a hospital, Black people were 50 percent less likely to survive 30 days compared with white people.

It is natural for an aunt to worry, but racial disparities should not be part of the equation. They should be in our rear view window.

I saw the future the first time I looked into my nephew’s little wrinkled face nearly a quarter century ago. I knew he would grow up to be tall, dark-skinned, smart and handsome like his father.

My prayer then — as it is now — is that he’d have choices, live free and do the things that made him happy, even if one of those things is riding a motorcycle that scares his auntie.

Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson oversees Ideas and Voices pages.

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