An Open Letter to the People Who Drive This Snitch-Ass, Cop-Ass Ford Explorer

Illustration for article titled An Open Letter to the People Who Drive This Snitch-Ass, Cop-Ass Ford Explorer
Photo: Scott Olsen (Getty Images)


First off, I’m aware you may very well be a kind and nice and Beyoncé-fearing citizen, but go fuck yourself. No offense, but I mean that from the bottom of my heart—the same heart, by the way, that you give palpitations to whenever I happen to see your ass behind me. I thumb my nose to you, you analog motherfucker.


Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me add some context.

Of the myriad reasons why it’s so rare to see black people participating in the types of extreme sports featured in the X Games and occuring on jagged mountain tops, in furious creeks, and on Steve Bannon’s face, the most telling is simply that existing while black is already an extreme sport. When you’re used to death tagging around you like a sheet of toilet paper stuck to an unsuspecting belt, there’s really no need to fabricate a closeness to it. Who needs to bungee jump or snow board or cliff dive when you can get a similar rush of adrenaline when a TSA agent double takes your passport or a car salesman checks your credit? From cops and Kardashians to bigotry and boot cut jeans, our lives are filled with obstacles attempting to end us, and so while (pre-order plug alert!) What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker, living a still-actually-alive-while-black life means anticipating and avoiding them when you can.

Unfortunately, if you’re a black person who drives a car, its nearly impossible to avoid a police cruiser deciding to get behind and follow you. Sure, there are steps you can make to keep your car clean—updated registrations and inspection stickers, working tail lights, no Migos on your stereo, etc.—but sometimes they just happen behind you because of pure happenstance. And by “happenstance” I mean “trackaniggerstance.”

When you notice them, you do your best to keep calm while both your brain and your heart are racing. Perhaps you even start thinking of outrageous hypotheticals.

Fuck. He might think these Altoids in my pocket are crack. Should I just eat every Altoid if he stops me? Will swallowing 27 Altoids at once tear my esophageal lining?

“If I feel threatened by this cop, can I call the cops on him? What would happen? Would that be like the streams crossing in Ghostbusters?”


If lucky, you will not actually get stopped and that crisis will be averted. Still, the potential danger of what might possibly happen if this happens makes you hyper vigilant to police cars. In Pittsburgh and in many other cities in the past several years, police departments have been stocked with late-model Ford Explorers. I’ve seen so many that whenever I see an Explorer behind me now—particularly one with blue or black paint—I assume it’s a police car, and I go through my usual progressions of anxiety, fight-or-flight, and increasingly absurd scenarios.



Seriously, what type of sociopath goes to a dealership and says, “You know what? I’m not a cop, but I just want people to think I’m one?” What type of sadist looks at anything the police does, and thinks “That’s a thing I also want to do to?” Also, these cars aren’t cheap! The limited edition version starts at $43,000 and can go for over $50K. If you’re spending that much money on a sex-less, mid-sized SUV, you’re (probably) middle class! You have options motherfucker! And what non-cop motherfucker with options willingly chooses the cop option?

You are the cause of at least 274 hasty right turns into gas stations and parking lots each day. You are the reason why bodegas carry Lisinopril. You’re a side effect of Satan.


Anyway, if you were unsure earlier about why I hate you, I hope this provided some clarity.

Sincerely (and by “sincerely” I mean “go suck a gnat clit”),


Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



Here’s a couple ways to spot an unmarked cop car.

1. It’s an American brand. Taurus’ and Explorers are the go to but around my way they’ll also use Tahoe’s (for cops too fat to fit in an Explorer I guess) and the county uses Escapes but those are all in livery. I saw a Dodge Dart unmarked once.

2. Look at the wheels. Cop cars use these black steelies with a cap over the lug nuts.

3. Radio antennae. Most new cars have a single fin antennae if any. If there’s more than one thing stuck to the roof, or trunk its a cops car.

4. Lights. Fuckers love their lights. You can spot them pretty easily if the car pulls in behind you. Look at the corners of the front windshield, the dash or the grill. Also the corners of the back window