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The Moment A Black Man With A White Mom Realized His Race Could Be Dangerous

Alex Landau's mother raised him to never pay attention to race, but unfortunately the rest of the world does.

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Patsy Hathaway and her son, Alex Landau, interviewed each other on the August 15 Storycorps podcast and it's exceptionally powerful.

Hathaway starts with the story of 8-year-old Landau covering himself up on a hot day because he didn't want to get any darker. She says she was naive about the way race would affect Landau's life, though, until he was assaulted by police.

"I thought that love would conquer all and skin color really didn't matter," she says.

CBS News / Via

Hathaway's optimism ended in 2009 when 19-year-old Landau was threatened and violently beaten by Denver police after making an illegal left turn. These images are screen grabs from an interview Hathaway and Landau did recently with CBS News.

Landau suffered a traumatic brain injury, a concussion and required 45 stitches.

CBS News / Via

"I could feel the gun pressed to my head and I expected to be shot and at that point I lost consciousness," he tells his mom.


In this Youtube video from 2011, he talks and raps about his experience.

View this video on YouTube

"I’m not the first, I’m not saying they did me the worst, but I’m blessed to take steps on this mother earth."

"I was another face in the streets, and I was almost another dead black male."

CBS News / Via

Landau received a $795,000 settlement, but the officers who beat Landau were not charged. He was the subject of an award-winning feature story in the Denver Westword News and has taken up the fight against police brutality alongside his mother.

Julia Furlan is an audio editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Julia Furlan at

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