It’s been a while since I wrote. Simply because of everything that has been going on. From coronavirus shutting the country down to killer bees (who knew) to videos of police officers killing black men on the street, again. It’s been a lot to take in. But I felt the need to tell a story.
I remember my first racist interaction with the police as a kid. It was the summer time, and alot of my friends were in a neighborhood a few miles from my house. We were out playing basketball in the street in front of one of my friends house. Cars would occasionally come by and we would respectfully move out the way. Apparently, someone called the police and said we were cussing at cars going by. I don’t remember anyone doing so towards cars, but a police officer showed up. Short, frail white guy, sunglasses, typical tv cop lookalike. First thing he does was gather us around on the side of the road and tells us it was illegal to play basketball in the street. We had never heard of that but we complied and move the goal in the driveway. He then went on to say “The last thing we want is one of these drivers hit you mother f*ckers”.
Interesting choice of words.
I replied back “Can you not cuss at us?” It wasn’t disrespectful, just a simple request. So I thought.
I was then met with his reply of “Oh, we got a smart mouth badass, huh?”
I said “Excuse me?”
“Alright, let’s go. Get in the car.” He replied.
He then put me in the back of his car. I couldn’t believe what was going on. He went and gathered more info from my friends and he got in the car. He then told me “Listen here you lil shit. A lil nigger like you needs to respect police officers. Tell me where you live.” There were more words said after that but I got mad, and then I got shook. I realized the danger I was in. I wasn’t for sure what was happening, but I told him my address. I had too.
“Can you read and write?” He asked.
I replied “Yes.” He handed me what looked like a contact sheet on a piece of cardstock like paper. He handed it to me thru a plexiglass window separating the front and back seats. With my hands shaking, I filled it out… name address, age, etc… all while sitting in the back seat of a police car. I gave him directions to my house while sitting in the back of a police car. I seen someone walking on the street, which seemed like forever seeing someone since leaving the front of my friend’s house. It was a classmate. I saw her but I don’t know if she recognized me sitting in the back of a police car.
When we got to my house, he got out. My father was outside washing his blue van with a Kool cigarette in his mouth. They spoke for about 10 minutes and then the police officer came and open the car door. I got out with my head down knowing I was in big trouble. My father smacked the back of my head as I walked by. I went inside and went to my room.
Sad as it may sound, that was the end of it. I never recieved any type of talk, punishment, or anything. My father never gave me a talk about how a black kid should interact with white police officers. My father never talked to me about how there are some bad police officers out there. My father never told me about the negative outcomes that could have happen by getting in that car. My father never heard my side of what happened. My father never spoke another word about it. I’ll never know why.
My first encounter with the police was one I’ll never forget. I learned even being respectful and polite will never change the color of my skin. It will never change the fact that to many white people, I’m just another nigger with some chink in him. But I’m alive to speak on it. There are many who are not, like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. We have to continue to be vocal about racism and have these uncomfortable conversations about it. If protesting isn’t your thing, then maybe organizing a fundraiser is, or running for local government seats, or financially supporting those who are willing to be on the front line, or even speaking and writing, performing, raise a fist, making tik tok videos, or whatever you want to do, you have to continue to support the fight against police brutality and racism. We’ve been fighting a long time and we must continue to fight.
Continue to fight.