Another click. Then another. Click, click, click. That’s what happens when I pass vehicles crossing the street typically in Oak Park where I work. Click, click. From car doors. From vans. Even from people sitting in parked cars. I’ve got no problem with being cautious and people making sure they’re safe in their cars. But it’s just something I can’t help but notice, and hear. Click. Click. Click-click. That’s a double clicking of a door.

I’ve worked in Oak Park for six years, but I’m not aware of a rash of carjackings taking place.

Now to change gears a bit – as a society, we tend to shy away from discussions involving race and racism. And those who really don’t want to talk about such issues usually play the “playing the race card” card. That’s become the catch-all weapon of folks who want to undermine meaningful and legitimate discussions about race issues when a minority brings them up. I can hear those folks now as clear as I hear the click, click, clicking of the car doors.

A white person might say, “Hey, I’ve had people locking their doors when I pass.” Maybe. But I doubt it with respect to the frequency because, though my hearing is not that great, I’ve got plenty of common sense. If a driver didn’t lock their car door after a bunch of white people walked past before I did, then does so when I approach, then that argument doesn’t fly.

And yes, that has happened to me – often.

Now my mother and sister, in particular, worry when I’m coming home late from the job. I always joke that “they’re more afraid of me than I am of them.” And I have been told, even by co-workers past and present, that I have an angry look sometimes. A lot of folks do, unknowingly. I like to think it’s my intense work face.

So, I dunno, if I saw me walking down the street, would I quickly lock the car door, just to be on the safe side? Maybe, maybe not, because, knowing me, I’d have the doors locked already.

This isn’t all about race because I’ve been clicked-on by black drivers – clickity-click-click-click. The more I hear the clicks, though, the more I can’t help but notice them. I recall a long, long time ago during the summer when I was riding with my sister that we saw some guy walking past the open window on the driver’s side of a car next to us. The guy quickly reached in and grabbed at the driver and ran away. He was trying to snatch a chain maybe.

My sister was like, “What was he trying to do?” I said he was stealing. Anything can happen when you’re driving. But just because it can, doesn’t mean it will. I don’t want your purse or chain or wallet or to inflict bodily harm on anyone when I’m zipping across the street. I don’t want an innocent driver or passenger to come into harm’s way from a carjacker or chain-snatcher.

Just keep in mind when driving, or standing in an elevator, or standing on an el platform in the company of a black guy – it’s OK to be careful and mindful. Be mindful, in fact, regardless who’s there. But don’t let a racial stereotype go to your head. 

Lock that car door as soon as you get in.