Watch “Traffic Stop,” an Emmy-Nominated, Animated Film About a Traffic Stop Gone Horribly Wrong

As the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment has come to occu­py a greater swath of America’s atten­tion span, a con­ver­sa­tion has arisen around the pit­falls of ally­ship, a term that lends itself to dis­cus­sions of gen­der and dis­abil­i­ty, as well as race.

Sim­ply put, the self-pro­claimed allies are mem­bers of a more priv­i­leged major­i­ty, eager to lend sup­port through word and deed.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, their enthu­si­asm often turns them into micro­phone hogs in what activist Princess Har­mo­ny Rodriguez has referred to as “ally the­ater.”

A num­ber of would-be allies con­fuse humil­i­ty with the seek­ing of brown­ie points. If they real­ly got it, those at the cen­ter of the move­ment say, they would not expect mem­bers of the minor­i­ty to rearrange their to-do lists to bring them up to speed on what it’s like to be a per­son of col­or (or a trans­gen­dered per­son or a dis­abled per­son).

Would-be allies are there­fore advised to step out of the spot­light, stuff a sock in it, and edu­cate them­selves, by work­ing to find exist­ing essays and nar­ra­tives, authored by those with whom they would be in sol­i­dar­i­ty.

Human nature ensures that tem­pers will flare and hurt feel­ings will be aired. The hor­ri­fy­ing social ill that gave rise to the movement—the shoot­ing of unarmed black men by those charged with pro­tect­ing the whole of the public—is elbowed off­stage, so that a phe­nom­e­non such as ally­ship can be the num­ber one top­ic of debate on col­lege cam­pus­es, web­sites, and social media.

“Traf­fic Stop,” above, pro­vides a rare moment of racial accord, stem­ming from yet anoth­er ghast­ly tale of police bru­tal­i­ty.

The short ani­ma­tion was born of a con­ver­sa­tion record­ed by Alex Lan­dau and Pat­sy Hath­away in a Sto­ryCorps booth, a mas­sive oral his­to­ry project designed to attract a wide diver­si­ty of par­tic­i­pants.

Lan­dau is African-Amer­i­can.

His adop­tive moth­er, Hath­away, is white.

Those who would clas­si­fy adopt­ing a child of anoth­er race as “ally­ship” must con­cede that, if so, it is cer­tain­ly of no casu­al stripe.

The events of Jan­u­ary 15, 2009, when Den­ver police stopped the 19-year-old Lan­dau and a white friend for mak­ing an ille­gal left turn, caused Hath­away to rethink the col­or­blind world­view she had espoused while rais­ing her son.

“I thought that love would con­quer all and skin col­or real­ly did­n’t mat­ter,” Hath­away tells Lan­dau. “I had to learn the real­ly hard way when they almost killed you.”

Had the attack hap­pened a few years lat­er, Landau’s friend might have man­aged to doc­u­ment the pro­ceed­ings with a cell phone, despite the hand­cuffs that were placed on him after a bag of mar­i­jua­na was found in his pock­et.

Instead, this ani­ma­tion, and the gris­ly graph­ic pho­to that fol­lows of Landau’s face pri­or to receiv­ing 45 stitch­es, will have to suf­fice. His rec­ol­lec­tion of the laugh­ter and racial epi­thets direct­ed his way as he lay bleed­ing on the ground are stom­ach-churn­ers, too.

Like his moth­er, Landau’s child­hood per­cep­tion of an all-inclu­sive, benev­o­lent world was shat­tered. They mourned it togeth­er when they were reunit­ed in the emer­gency room on the night of the ill-fat­ed traf­fic stop.

Look and lis­ten.

Then, if you are ready to wade into thornier ter­ri­to­ry, read the hun­dreds of com­ments view­ers have post­ed on youtube.

Ulti­mate­ly, the City of Den­ver award­ed Lan­dau a $795,000 set­tle­ment, while the Den­ver Police Depart­ment, cit­ing a lack of evi­dence, cleared all three offi­cers of mis­con­duct. Fol­low up arti­cles from 2011 and 2013 are avail­able here and here.

Traf­fic Stop was ani­mat­ed by  Gina Kamentsky & Julie Zam­marchi (read an inter­view with them here). It was recent­ly nom­i­nat­ed for an Emmy award last week.

via West­word

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Read Online Key Doc­u­ments from the Fer­gu­son Grand Jury: Wit­ness Tes­ti­mo­ny, Foren­sic Evi­dence & More

‘Tired of Giv­ing In’: The Arrest Report, Mug Shot and Fin­ger­prints of Rosa Parks (Decem­ber 1, 1955)

Pep­per Spray­ing Peace­ful Pro­tes­tors Con­tin­ues; This Time at UC Davis

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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