I read this story with a sense of incredulity and impotence. Could this be happening in Tennessee in 2023?

A couple were driving through rural Tennessee on their way to a funeral in Chicago. They had with them in the car their children, one of who was breastfeeding. A police car pulled them over for a minor traffic violation. They had tinted windows and were driving in the left lane on the highway.

Instead of giving them a warning or a ticket, the couple was detained. Both were given drug tests, then hair follicle tests. The authorities decided they were unfit parents. Their children were taken away, including the breast-feeding baby.

A Black family from Georgia is fighting for the return of their five young children from the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services after a traffic stop in Manchester, Tenn. last month.

Bianca Clayborne and Deonte Williams were on Interstate 24 heading to a family funeral in Chicago — kids asleep in the back of the car — when a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer pulled them over for “dark tint and traveling in the left lane while not actively passing,” according to Feb. 17 citations issued to the couple.

The trooper searched the family’s Dodge Durango then arrested Williams for possession of five grams of marijuana, a misdemeanor in Tennessee. Clayborne was cited but not arrested.

Clayborne said she was told she was free to leave with the children, but could follow a THP car to find her way to the Coffee County Justice Center in order to bond Williams out.

Six hours after the traffic stop, as Clayborne sat on a bench in the criminal justice center waiting for Williams’ release, the five children — a breast-feeding baby now four months old along with 2-, 3-, 5- and 7-year-olds — were forcibly removed from her side while an officer restrained her from reaching for her crying baby, she said….

Inside, “the process seemed slow,” Clayborne said. She waited on benches with her children until about 3 p.m. — nearly six hours after the 9:40 a.m. stop. It was then, according to court records, the children were taken from her.

Uniformed police officers approached Clayborne and her children and “circled me,” she said.

“Then my baby started crying so I reached for my son, and as I’m reaching, a man held me and told me, ‘don’t touch him. He’s getting taken away from you,’” Clayborne said.

One woman was walking her five year old son out the door; another picked her daughter and walked away. Someone else took the stroller with her baby inside.

“I just sat there crying, crying, crying,” she said, her voice shaking as she recounted the events via a Zoom meeting from Georgia.

Clayborne said no one asked her for any information – her phone number, the children’s health or nutritional needs and no one immediately provided her contact information so she could learn where they were or a court order showing why they were taken.

“My kids – they have asthma and you’re not asking about nothing,” she said. “I breastfeed.They didn’t give me anything. They just ran off with my kids.”

When the hearing concluded, the court decided to retain custody of the five children and ordered the parents to take additional drug tests, including hair follicle tests, which are not reliable but might show drug use months ago.

Your Critical Race Theory quiz: Please read the articles in full and respond to these questions:

If the couple were white, do you think the police would have acted differently? How? Why? Why not?

If the couple were white, would they have been subject to search to arrest and detainment? Why or why not?

If the couple were white, would they have lost custody of their children? Why and why not.

NOTICE: this post should not be read or shared in Florida, as it is illegal to discuss these questions.