People who have never experienced the dread of encountering some US police officers as a Black person may never fully comprehend the rage of the protesters in the streets of Minneapolis and other cities over the racist murder of George Floyd. The two encounters I have had with them still traumatize me, and I am only just realizing that I had never written about those encounters until now.

The first time was in the spring of 2000, during my first trip to the United States as one of seven fellows by the US Department of State, for its prestigious International Visitor Programme.

The programme had the theme, “The Role of Theatre in US Society.”

Conceived to bring “current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields to experience the [United States] firsthand and to cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts,” one of the cities in our itinerary was Louisville, Kentucky. We were lodged at the legendary Galt House, Louisville’s waterfront hotel with spectacular views of the Ohio River, especially from the revolving rooftop restaurant on the 25th floor. I instantly fell in love with the city. The beauty of the city was complemented by the memorable hospitality we enjoyed during our first social night.  We had been invited to a private reception at Jack Daniel’s distillery in Louisville. The party was hosted by Owsley Brown II, CEO from 1993 to 2005 and great grandson of George Garvin Brown, who founded the company in 1870 “with $5,500 in saved and borrowed money.” At the reception, we sampled gloriously crafted whisky and bourbon at an evening in the expansive headquarters of the global brand, Brown-Forman company. I even had the privilege of being given an autographed bottle of specially aged and crafted Jack Daniel’s whiskey for keepsake.

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