TOWN OF DICKINSON – A local black family is looking for accountability and to raise awareness following what they call a blatant act of racism.
It all stems from a lesson in driving manual transmission that was not welcome by some in a predominantly white neighborhood.
On Tuesday afternoon, Niko Murray met his father at his dad’s house in Sunrise Terrace in the Town of Dickinson so that Niko could practice driving stick shift.
They chose the dead end of Adams Drive 3 blocks away because it’s one of the flatter sections of the neighborhood.
That’s when they were approached by a white woman demanding to know what they were up to.
“Saying she was going to call the cops, so I started to pick up my phone and record it. From there, it was mainly just questioning what we were doing there, why are we driving back and forth? We don’t really belong here. She said she had never seen us in this neighborhood before,” says Niko.
“What was your question?” Woman says, “I’m asking you what you’re doing on the road, driving back and forth and stopping.” Niko’s father says, “I’m not looking for an address.”
Niko is visiting home from college.
He attends NYU on a full scholarship.
His mother Carla Murray-Scott was furious when she saw the video.
“She saw Black folks. We can say that she’s ignorant. We can say that she’s a bigot, but this is clear racism.” “If Niko and his Dad were white, and they were driving back and forth, you would have seen a dad giving a son driving lessons and all would have been well,” she says.
Carla says the woman had no right to use her privilege as a white person to tell Niko and his Dad that they don’t belong and to use calling the police to intimidate them.
“As a parent, I’m extremely concerned about this interaction. And it’s not a one-time thing. Things like this are happening throughout our community.”
“What do you think I’m going to do?” Woman says, “I’m just asking.” Niko asks, “What are you worried about?” Woman says, “What do you mean what am I worried about?” Niko says, “You seem pretty brave enough to come to the car, so what are you worried about me driving back and forth?” Woman says, “I’m asking if you’re looking for an address.” Niko’s father says, “No. We’re not.”
Carla says she worries about what might have happened if the woman was armed or if the police had been called.
“This situation could have been worse. Thank God it was not, but it could have been worse. So, there needs to be conversation, there needs to be more dialogue, there also needs to be change.”
“So, you’re just going to keep driving back and forth more times?” Niko and his father say, “Yes.” Woman says, “Have at it.” Niko and his father say, “Thank you.”
Niko says another woman approached their car several houses down with similar questions.
Carla says everyone needs to wake up to the fact that racism is alive and well in our community.
“If you are not a person of color, this is not your reality. You don’t know what it’s like for someone to see you and assume that you do not belong because of what you look like,” she says.
Carla Murray-Scott says she’d like to figure out a way to use her family’s experience to not only spark dialogue but concrete change that leads to people being held accountable when they seek to harass and intimidate people based on the color of their skin.