Former CNN anchor and current BET host TJ Holmes appeared on The Ed Show Monday to express his frustration with the conversation about race relations in America.
Holmes, angrily tweeted “Driving while black ain’t no joke,” after he was pulled over Monday about 1.5 miles from his driveway in Atlanta.
Almost immediately, after he stopped his car, Holmes “stuck his arms out the window and crossed his hands, so the officer saw his hands," said Holmes.
Guest host Michael Eric Dyson clarified for viewers why Holmes did this saying, “You do that because you’re a black man and you don’t want them to think you have a gun or anything.”
Holmes, agreed. “I don’t want that officer nervous when he walks up to the door.” Holmes continued explaining how the officer wasn’t rude, and wanted to make sure he had insurance on the car, even going as far as asking for a bill of sale. The BET host complied with the officer’s requests but later filed a complaint with the police department.
Holmes declined to name the specific police department- or the make of the car he was driving. "I purposely didn't say what kind of car it was. I don't think it should matter if I was in a 2012 BMW or an '89 Pinto. It shouldn't matter."
Holmes’ experience leads us to ask: Are we living in a post-racial America? Unfortunately, even with the first black president in office, a 2009 Gallup poll showed a drop in optimism about the change people hoped would occur. Bureau of Justice statistics also showed that black drivers were about three times as likely to be searched during a traffic stop compared to whites, and two times as likely as Hispanics.
Noting that he was mad at the time he was tweeting, Holmes told Dyson all day he wondered if he made a mistake with his comments and whether he heightened people’s emotions by using the phrase “driving while black.” Holmes says he received mixed reactions about his story.
Holmes remains unconvinced that America will ever have an honest conversation about race relations, saying “nothing ever gets done.” However, he wants to take his experience, try to make a change in his local community and “make this conversation real to some people” because “it happens to a lot of people who are not going to have voice.”