BLACK VOICES

Lena Waithe Feels 'A Sense Of Trauma' When She Gets Pulled Over By The Police

The "Queen & Slim" screenwriter addressed the history of the way Black people are treated by law enforcement.

Lena Waithe recently shared that as a Black woman she feels a “sense of trauma” whenever she gets pulled over by law enforcement. 

“The Chi” creator discussed the long history of racial disparities in how police use force against Black people, during a recent interview discussing her new film, “Queen & Slim.”

“I always feel a sense of trauma when I get pulled over,” Waithe told The Associated Press in an interview published Wednesday. “Because the history that police have with Black people, and that I’ve seen on the television and on the news since I was a young person.”

“I never got a speeding ticket. ... I don’t even drink ... so I shouldn’t feel that way when I get pulled over, but I do,” she later said. “I feel nervous, I feel traumatized, because you don’t know.”

Police shoot Black Americans at a disproportionate rate, according to a Washington Post database. The tracker found that while Black people make up about 13% of the population in the U.S., they account for more than a quarter of police shooting victims. 

Furthermore, a study of traffic stops by Stanford University’s Open Policing Project published earlier this year found that Black drivers were about 20 percent more likely to be stopped by police than white drivers.

From left: Jodie Turner-Smith, Melina Matsoukas, Daniel Kaluuya and Lena Waithe attend AFI FEST 2019 on the opening night wor
From left: Jodie Turner-Smith, Melina Matsoukas, Daniel Kaluuya and Lena Waithe attend AFI FEST 2019 on the opening night world premiere of "Queen & Slim."

“Queen & Slim,” written by Waithe and directed by Melina Matsoukas, stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith.

The film covers Slim (Kaluuya) and Queen’s (Turner-Smith) first date when they are pulled over by a police officer for a minor traffic violation. The situation then escalates, leaving the couple to become a “symbol of trauma, terror, grief and pain for people across the country,” a film description reads.

During a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Waithe said that “Queen & Slim” was “sort of born out of the Black renaissance in which we’re living in right now.”

“Queen & Slim” hits theaters on Wednesday.

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