How to Survive an Encounter with the Police as a Young Black Person, Part 3 (The Man in the Mirror #5)

Today, I am going to continue sharing with you practical, actionable information on how you can survive an encounter with the police. In our last episode, we talked about how it is important to look at a situation from the police’s perspective and act in a manner that does not arouse suspicion. The final topic that the National Black Police Association addresses is: what to do when the police knock on your door. They state:

If the police knock at your door, you do not have to let them in unless there is a signed warrant. Always ask to see the warrant. If it appears proper on its face, you must step aside and let them into your home or business.

If it is an arrest warrant, look at the name on the warrant to make certain they have the right person. If it is a search warrant, make sure the address is correct and note what is specifically listed on the warrant to be searched for in your home.

If the police do not have a warrant, you do not have to let them in unless they insist. Perhaps you can settle this matter at the door. If they do insist, over your objections, then be careful to:

– First, ask for a police badge and identification

– Second, ask the purpose of entering your home.

– Third, let them in only after they insist.

– Fourth, if you object, make sure that the police know that you do not consent to any search of your home or business.

– Fifth, remember badge numbers, officer’s faces, and the time of day. Write this information down.

The police are not required to give you a receipt for property they intend to book as evidence such as stolen goods, guns, etc. However, when property is taken from your home, ask the police for a receipt.

The police may also search without a warrant whenever arresting an individual. They may search the individual under arrest, the area near the arrest, and the room where the arrest was made if inside the home. They may also search after consent is given. Police may also search when there is an emergency (for example, someone screaming for help inside your home), or when chasing you or someone else inside your home.

If you are arrested, the police can search you and the area close by. If you are in a building, “close by” usually means just the room you are in.


You have the right to remain silent and to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police. Tell the police nothing except your name and address. Don’t give any explanations, excuses or stories. You can make your defense later, in court, based on what you and your lawyer decides is best.


Ask to see a lawyer, immediately. If you can’t pay for a lawyer, you have a right to a free one and should ask the police how the lawyer can be contacted. Don’t say anything without a lawyer. Within a reasonable time after your arrest or booking, bail will be set. Have your lawyer ask the judge about the possibility of lowering the bail. You must be taken before the judge on the next court day after an arrest. Do not make any decisions in your case until you have talked with a lawyer.

This concludes our discussion of what to do in an encounter with the police from the National Black Police Association. If you follow their advice, I can assure you that any encounter you have with law enforcement will turn out better — not only for you, but for your family and your community.

“Mo’ Letters to Young Black Men”: Preface (The Brother’s Keeper)

I thank God for the great success of Letters to Young Black Men as it has now become a perennial national bestseller, an ESSENCE magazine national bestseller, a Dallas Morning News bestseller, and an bestseller for ten years straight.

mltybm-ltybmAllow me to share with you the two main reasons why I wrote Letters to Young Black Men.

The first reason is because the Lord impressed upon my heart the apparent great need among young black men in our community for Godly, loving, fatherly, advice and encouragement while on their journey in this life. I had a burden on my heart for my “kinsmen according to the flesh.”

It disturbed me to see so many young black men messing up their lives so early in life, simply because they were not firmly guided in the right direction. So by the leading of the Lord, I decided to put pen to paper in hopes that God would use Letters to Young Black Men to at least “save some.”

I believe that the written word is still one of the most effective ways to reach people in a more concrete and permanent way. God could have written His Word in the sky, but He chose to record all His Words in a Book—the Bible. Note what author, Bud Gardner, said: “When you speak, your words echo only across the room or down the hall. But when you write, your words echo down the ages.”

The second reason I wrote Letters to Young Black Men is because I am a child of the early sixties — arguably one of the most exciting periods of our American history. Indeed, in the words of Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” For black people, there could be no truer statement. Many agree that while we as a people were making major “strides toward freedom”, freeing ourselves from the awful Jim Crow era, and beginning to take our rightful place in American society, we began to lose some other important things, such as the good old fashioned way of raising our children, which included corporal chastisement for doing wrong, and an emphasis on virtue and doing the right thing. In addition to that, when so many doors to employment opportunities began to open for our parents and grandparents, many naturally took on the mentality: “My children won’t go through what I went through. They will have many of the things I did not have while I was growing up.”

No one can blame them for having that mentality. Coming out of what they came out of, anybody would have done the same. However, the results are still none-the-less damaging, and because of that natural mentality, we have a generation of young people, who, for the most part, lack character, are materialistic, do not carry the values of their forefathers, and do not respect their parents, or anyone else for that matter. Our community has suffered many casualties and losses, and has planted seeds of destruction and pain that are immeasurable, and that will probably take a generation to overcome.

These are the things that motivated me to write Letters to Young Black Men and now, Mo’ Letters to Young Black Men. However, I did not write these books as an end in themselves.

I wrote these books for all young black men, but I wrote them primarily for the young black men who have faced some disadvantages in their young life, for I am convinced that the young life is the most important part of life. I wrote this book for the young black man who has no father, or who has a weak father; for the young black man who has no mother, or who has a mother whose priorities are out of order. I believe that if things are not done right in a person’s childhood, it does not mean that he or she cannot cope with life when he or she gets older. However, there will be gaps in that person’s life, and those gaps will appear under pressure. These books are an attempt to help fill in some of those gaps in the lives of these young men.

I wrote these books to serve as a ramp that can get young black men on the right freeway—the freeway toward greater success and productivity in this life.

Your friend,

—Daniel Whyte III
Fort Worth, TX

How to Survive an Encounter with the Police as a Young Black Person, Part 2 (The Man in the Mirror #4)


In our last episode, we talked about the importance of responding the right way to situations when you are confronted by the police or others in authority. You may feel like you are being profiled or that the only reason you are being stopped or questioned is because of the color of your skin or because of the neighborhood you happen to be in.

miami-policeChristian rapper, Lecrae, shared that he had just left a concert in Chicago recently, and he was in a car with several other people. As they were driving through a certain neighborhood, the man who was driving the car said, ‘The police are probably going to pull us because there are a lot of us in here.’ “Us” meaning black and latino young men in the same car. And, sure enough, a few minutes later, they were pulled by the police. So, these kinds of cases are real, and they happen frequently across America.

However, as you will recall from our last episode, I encouraged you to purposefully have a calm, respectful attitude if and when you are confronted by the police. If you do that, it may not seem like much, but you will be making it better not only for yourself, but for other young black men and women in America. This past weekend, we unfortunately heard the tragic news that a man — a young black man — who claimed to be getting revenge for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner shot and killed two New York City police officers who were sitting in a patrol car in Brooklyn, NY. Such a heinous crime will only serve to deepen the distrust and hostility between police forces and black communities across America. That young black man, who also took his own life, made it worse for everyone. He carried his anger against and/or hatred for the police to an extreme, and that is what I do not want you to do no matter how wrong you feel the police may be.

Right now, I am going to continue sharing with you how you can survive an encounter with the police. Remember, the purpose here is for you to remain alive and free as a young black person in America. In our last episode, we discussed what to do if you are stopped while driving or walking on the street. Today, we are going to go over some do’s and don’ts regarding dealing with the police. These tips are from the National Black Police Association. They state:

– Keep your hands where the police can see them

– Please…do not run!

– Do not touch any police officer.

– Do not resist – even if you believe you are innocent.

– Do not complain too strongly on the scene or tell the police they’re wrong or that you’re going to file a complaint.

– Ask for a lawyer immediately when arrested.

– Record officers’ badge numbers and patrol car numbers and write down everything you remember – as soon as possible.

– Try to find witnesses and their names and phone numbers

Now, there are many factors that may lead the police to approach and/or detain you. Every situation is different and the officer may consider one or more of the following factors. Knowing this will help you see things from the police officer’s perspective no matter how innocent you think you are.

– You are near a location where a crime has been recently reported or discovered.

– You may be – knowingly or unknowingly – a witness to a criminal event or a potential criminal target.

– You are hanging around with people or at locations that are being monitored by the police to prevent crimes.

– You are acting in a manner which appears to be suspicious or potentially criminal; or the police believe you may be in possession of stolen property, contraband, or weapons.

– When walking or driving your car, you refuse to answer police questions and/or give false, evasive, or contradictory information; or you are combative and use derogatory or offensive language when approached. Your reaction may be perceived as suspicious or threatening. Saying the wrong things at the wrong time could lead to further police detainment, questions, increased stress or a trip to jail. Who needs this?

– You have been identified to the police by someone else or you fit the description of a criminal actor.

Remember, police must be able to articulate to the court’s satisfaction what “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause” was used to stop, detain, and arrest a citizen.

We will continue with more tips on how to survive an encounter with the police in our next episode.

Think for Yourself! (Letter 24)


Dear Y.B.M.:

One of the saddest things that I see today is so many people who do not think for themselves, especially young black men. It is painful to watch so many gullible people be led astray.

Think for yourself! Be a leader instead of a follower. We have enough followers. These people let others think for them, speak for them and even do for them. Don’t allow yourself to get into that rut. Think for yourself. Be the leader that God wants you to be.

Simply because a person is older and in a position of authority and is considered a leader by many, does not mean he has to be your leader. His perceived high position by many does not mean his ideas, statements and direction are correct. Think for yourself!


Now, in order to learn how to think for yourself, you need to do at least three things:

1. You need to size up every “leader” and his statements with the rule book: the Bible. You must see if what the person is saying is jiving with God’s eternal Word.

2. You need to have a set of convictions about the issues of life based upon a biblical foundation. This way you are not swayed by every new wind of ideas that blow your way.

3. You need to examine what people say before you accept it “hook, line and sinker,” so to speak.

In order to keep from going down the wrong path, in order to protect your family, in order to be the leader that God wants you to be, you must think for yourself and take responsibility for your statements, decisions and actions.

My friend, trust me: it is much easier to be a follower than it is to be a leader. But it is much better to think for yourself and be the leader that God wants you to be — the leader who is going right and who is leading others right.

Thinking For Myself,

Bro. Daniel

Power Thoughts

P.T.: Thurgood Marshall said, “It takes no courage to get in the back of a crowd and throw a rock.”

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. said, “It’s never the right time to take a particular stand.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Courtland Milloy said, “The hallmark of courage in this age of conformity is to stand up for what you believe.”

Michael Jordan said, “Fear is an illusion.”

How to Survive an Encounter with the Police as a Young Black Person, Part 1 (The Man in the Mirror #3)


You have likely heard people use the phrase “driving while black” or “shopping while black” more often in recent times. Blacks have come to use such phrases to describe how they feel mistreated or feel as though they are looked at suspiciously by police, store workers, security guards, and others simply because of the color of their skin.

miami-policeA few months ago, an upscale department store in New York City reached a $525 million settlement with two young black people who experienced such discrimination. 19-year-old Trayon Christian and 21-year-old Kayla Phillips both legally purchased items from the store, however after they left the store, they were followed and detained by police officers who had been summoned by store workers on the suspicion that they had stolen the items from the store. Others, particularly black men, have reported that such “shop and frisk” cases are common for blacks who shop at higher-end retailers. Even though they felt insulted and humiliated, these two young people worked through the legal system to resolve their cases. Not only did they end up winning a legal settlement in their favor (and a whole lot of money), but they caused the New York store chain to adopt a Customer’s Bill of Rights which prohibits employees from profiling customers and acting on suspicions based solely on the race of the customer. In short, they made things better for everybody.

The sad truth, however, is that such a case may still happen to you as a young black person in America. You may face scrutiny, suspicious glances, or extensive questioning from store workers, security guards, and the police when all you are doing is shopping, driving or walking down the street. Many people make the mistake of reacting negatively or in a hostile manner when they are confronted by law enforcement because they feel as though they are being treated unfairly. Such a reaction, unfortunately, often leads to arrests, rough handling by the police, and, far too often, a police officer fatally shooting the suspect.

Today, I want to begin sharing with you how you can survive an encounter with the police. Contrary to what some today would have you to believe, the police are not your enemy. The police are a part of a God-ordained governmental authority structure. The Bible says in Romans 13:3-5: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” When you show respect for the police and the government, you are being obedient to God by honoring the authority He has set up.

However, police are human. They are flawed, and they sometimes make mistakes. Some often harbor prejudices and subscribe to stereotypes that cause them to see a young black man or a young black woman as more likely to commit a crime, and therefore, more deserving of suspicion. Thus, they may be more inclined to deal with a young black person in a rough manner. So, my aim in talking with you over the next few episodes is to simply help you stay alive and stay out of jail. No matter how you feel about how the police or the justice system treats minorities in this country, I think you would agree that it is better to have such feelings and be alive and free than it is to be dead or in jail.

So, today, I am going to share with you how to survive an encounter with the police while driving or while walking. These tips are from the National Black Police Association. They state:

If you are driving a vehicle, the police can ask you to pull over at any time. The best thing to do in this situation is to pull over and follow the officer’s directions. The officer will request to see your driver’s license, registration and/or proof of liability insurance – this you must do.

If you are stopped at night, turn on your dome light and show the officer that nothing is wrong. It is best to do nothing which may give reason to search further. Having your lights on and keeping your hands on the steering wheel will usually put the officer’s mind at ease.

Chances are that the officer is going to write out a ticket for a traffic violation. Of course, you may start to explain at this point but you should limit your comments. Be careful how you protest. A simple traffic violation may start costing you a fortune in fines for other violations. If you think that the ticket is incorrect – then, carry your protest to traffic court. If you’re given a ticket, you should sign it; otherwise you can be arrested.

Police may stop and detain you only if they have a reasonable suspicion or probable cause that you are about to commit or have committed a crime. If you’re suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) and refuse to take a blood, urine or breath-test, your driver’s license may be suspended.

In certain cases, your car can be searched without a warrant as long as the police have probable cause. To protect yourself later, you should make it clear that you do not consent to a search. It is not lawful for police to arrest you simply for refusing to consent to a search.

Now, if you are stopped by the police while walking:

The police may ask for your name if you have been properly detained; you can be arrested in some states for refusing to give it. If you reasonably fear that your name is incriminating, you can claim the right to remain silent, which may be a defense in case you are arrested anyway. It’s not a crime to refuse to answer questions, but refusing to answer might make the police suspicious about you.

Police may “pat-down” your outer-clothing – if, they suspect a concealed weapon. Don’t physically resist, but make it clear that you don’t consent to any further search. Ask if you are under arrest. If you are, you have a right to know why. Don’t bad-mouth the police officer or offer resistance, even if you believe what is happening is unreasonable. That could lead to your arrest.

Most of the problems you may encounter with the police can be avoided. Remember, the police may think they have reason (probable cause) to stop you and ask questions. At this time, you should collect your thoughts and remain calm. Whether or not you are detained or arrested may just depend on how calm and prepared you are at this time. Think carefully about your words, movement, body language, and emotions. Don’t get into an argument with the police. Remember, anything you say or do can be used against you.

We will continue with more tips on how to survive an encounter with the police in our next episode.

Women Folk! (Letter 23)


Dear Y.B.M.:

This letter will probably be the most controversial letter that I write you. However, I hope that you read it and take heed to it.

black-man-and-girlfriendIn this letter, I want to talk to you about one of the most important issues in life for the young black man or any man for that matter, and that is his relationship with the women folk. The older you get, the more you will realize how important it is to understand how to deal with women. A good woman can help you become a great success in life; a bad woman can not only make your life miserable, but she can ruin your life as well. It is as simple as that. Notice what the wisest man who ever lived said:

Proverbs 12:4 reads, “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”

Proverbs 23:27 reads, “For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit.”

My dear brother, there are some things that you need to know about dealing with women folk that will help you avoid much trouble and sorrow, and that will help you find the right woman as your life’s mate. The following are some things that you will want to keep in mind as you deal with the women folk:

1. Understand that women are designed by God to be a help and a blessing to man, not a hinderance.

2. Think with your big head; not with your little head. In other words, don’t let your life be driven by sex, but rather by God’s Word, and what is right. Too many young and old men today love sex more than they love God. My old school fellows and I used to call men like this “sex-whipped.” Well, it was a little bit more graphic than that, but I can’t go there here.

3. Everything that glitters ain’t gold. It is a tragedy, but true, that most pretty and fine women are not good for you. You had better learn and learn quickly to get past the exterior and find out about the interior. Beautiful women are a dime-a-dozen, seriously. God made them beautiful and voluptuous. But what you want, son, and what you had better get in a woman is a woman of virtue, integrity, trustworthiness and honor, if you want to have peace of mind in this life. Because if you fool around and get yourself a woman who is beautiful on the outside, yet on the inside she is full of lies, cheating, rebellion, stubbornness, disrespect, manipulation, etc., etc., you will have hell to pay! Mark my words. Notice what Solomon says on this subject from the Book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible:
Proverbs 31:30 says, “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Proverbs 31:10 says, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”

4. As you are in the process of looking for that special someone, please put God first and the search for the right lady second. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

5. Don’t be afraid of women nor be intimidated by women. They are just women. Love them, talk to them, lead them, have fun with them, but don’t be afraid of them and don’t be intimidated by them, because as soon as a woman detects that you are afraid of her or intimidated by her, you are doomed.

6. I want to say to you also something that may be a shock to you, and that is: YOU ARE THE PRIZE TOO. Yes, to find a good woman is a prize indeed, but contrary to what one might think, it is also a prize for a woman to find a good man in this day and time. And considering the male/female ratio in the black community, a woman finding a good man is more of a prize. So don’t sell yourself short.

7. Another secret item that will help you understand the women folk is the simple, untold, truth that women desire men just as much as men desire women. I am not only talking about in emotional, financial and romantic ways, but physically as well. This is just a normal thing that our Creator put in both the male and the female. So do not buy the myth that you have to bow to women and beg her to get interested in you. She may already be interested.

8. Take note with me the kind of men most women really like. And for some strange reason, it is not the soft, apologizing, shuffling, sweet, little, sugary man she is looking for. Good women like real men. Notice some things women like in men:

A. Confident, but not arrogant.
B. Cool, not hot-headed.
C. One who knows where he is going.
D. One who does not let women control and manipulate him. Women don’t like weak-back men.
E. A clean and neat dresser.
F. One who can share his true feelings well.
G. One who is authentic.
H. A man who “knows” how to handle her.
I. A man who can make her laugh.
J. A man who will not let her have her way all of the time.
K. A man who likes to have sex often and who enjoys sex.

9. Here is something to keep in mind, that is not popular with men or women today: In your relationship with the woman in your life, be the leader: “Be the head and not the tail.” Don’t be the follower. Understand, son, that God made you to be the leader of the relationship. This does not mean, in any way, that you have the right to be abusive or to mistreat her, however. Lovingly insist that your relationship be this way because God intended for it to be this way. If you are a strong, loving leader, a “good woman” will not mind, at all, lining up with your leadership. Deep down in their heart of hearts, good, decent women appreciate strong, loving, decisive male leadership, and they despise or will eventually despise a man who is not a strong leader and who lets her control him and manipulate him. In fact, I know of countless cases where women left easy, soft, weak, “nicey, nicey” men who let them have their way, for strong, decisive men who did not let them have their way all of the time. It is a strange situation, but what I am telling you is true. Be a strong, loving man who knows where he is going, knows what he wants, who can think independently, and who does not allow women to hinder him. Strangely, women will be greatly attracted to you if you genuinely exude that kind of personality.

10. Contrary to what is popular today, pray for a good woman and marry young. This waiting until you are thirty and thirty-five years old is not wise. Get yourself a young, beautiful girl and marry her while you are young. This will save you a host of temptations and problems, and one of the great side benefits is that your children will be grown while you are still young. Brother man, if you don’t have the gift of celibacy, which you probably don’t have, please marry young. If you don’t, you will probably end up doing things, sexually speaking, that you will regret the rest of your life. Do not think holding out for as long as you can is the best way.

I could write an entire book on this subject. But for now, just remember these things as you deal with the opposite sex.

Dealing With The Women Folk Well,


Power Thoughts

P.T.: Spurgeon said, “God save us from wives who are angels in the street, saints in the church, and devils at home.”

Proverbs 14:1 says, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”

Proverbs 21:9 says, “It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.”

Proverbs 21:19 says, “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”

Proverbs 31:30 says, “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Proverbs 30:20 says, “Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.”

Syrus said, “Many receive advice, only the wise profit by it.”

Someone else said, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”

How To Be Really Cool (Letter 22)


Dear Y.B.M.:

I trust that you are a cool fellow.

being-coolIn this letter, I would like to mention some things on this matter of “being cool.” Now you may think it strange that I am writing on the subject of being cool in a book of this nature. But, in my opinion, being cool is important. In fact, being cool is a cool thing to do.

What coolness is not…

Now being cool is not necessarily wearing your cap on backwards, or having your pants hanging off your tail. Coolness is not necessarily having an N.B.A. jacket on twice your size. Coolness is not having three or four girlfriends and having babies by each of them. Being cool is not smoking, drinking and doing drugs. Coolness is not carrying a gun or being a part of a gang. It is not skipping school to hang with the boys. Friend of mine, I am not merely suggesting that these things are not cool. I know these things are not cool. Get away from foolishness and learn how to be really cool.

So what is real coolness?

Real coolness in my book is being prepared so that you will never look un-cool. Real coolness is being un-ruffled at the various vicissitudes of life. Brother-Friend, real coolness is that quiet confidence in knowing that God is in control and knowing that everything will be alright. Coolness is having inexplicable peace, joy and calmness even in the midst of the storms of life. God calls this peace and joy “peace that passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) and “joy unspeakable” (I Peter 1:8). To me, being cool is also being able to express yourself clearly even when you are under fire. Being cool is being able to keep your tongue under control even from defending yourself from the accusations of fools.

In closing, let me say that coolness is knowing what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.

Are you really “cool,” friend? Or do you just look cool?

Yours For Never Letting Them See You Sweat,


Power Thoughts

P.T.: “The secret of success is to be like a duck — smooth and unruffled on top, but paddling furiously underneath.” —Unknown