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You don’t understand,” my dad said. “They stop you.”

“Who? What are you talking about?” my mom asked.

“That’s why I was being cautious.”

“Who stops you?”

“The police. If you’re white, or maybe Oriental, they let you drive however you want. But if you’re not, they stop you.”

“Who told you that?”

“The guys at the diner. That’s what they say. If you’re black or if you’re brown, they automatically think you’ve done something wrong.”

“Rafa, that’s ridiculous. We’ve lived here for fifteen years. We’re citizens.”

“The police don’t know that by looking at us. They see a brown face through the windshield and boom! Sirens!”

My mom shook her head. “That’s what that was about?”

“I didn’t want to give them reason to stop me.”

“You were driving like a blind man, Rafa. That will give them reason to stop you.”

“Everybody else just has to obey the law. We have to obey it twice as well.”

“But that doesn’t mean you have to go twice as slow as everybody else!”

The light turned green and my dad brought the car out of first. We cruised under the overpass, a shadow draping over the car like a blanket.

“Next time, just try to blend in with everyone else and you’ll be fine,” my mom offered.

“The way of the world,” my dad said.

“What?” my mom asked as we emerged back into the sunlight.

“Just trying to blend in. That’s the way of the world.”

“Well, that’s the way of America, at least,” my mom said.


Cristina Henriquez

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