I try my best to avoid making personal political posts of any kind. I try to stay upbeat and positive and believing in a progressive world that is moving toward a better one than the one it was yesterday. But as stories like Eric Garner, the Ferguson shooting, and Tamir Rice become more consistent parts of the world in which we live, I find my sadness for those events being replaced by fear. It was something that was perhaps always in the back of my mind but is now very much a part of my daily life.
As a large, young black man living in the South, this fear keeps me from going out at night. I don’t go downtown and explore the city in which I live. I don’t travel to areas too far from my home, I am always on the lookout for cops. Instead of going out with new friends and having great new experiences, I stay inside my comfort zone and never risk being somewhere that could lead to a confrontation.
In my entire life I have never been in trouble with the police. I have one had one ticket in my entire driving career, I don’t one a gun or any other kind of weapon, and I do my absolute best to follow the law. Some say my fear is for naught, that I don’t strike them as the type to ever give a cop a reason to stop me. But how many people said the same thing of Eric Garner before he was killed by a cop?
I am a very tall, physically imposing, black man. I work out regularly in my attempts to stay healthy, and most people clear a path when they see me coming. I have watched people cross the street just to avoid walking close by me. This is something that, when I was younger, used to make me laugh. I knew I was nice but I loved the intimidation factor. Now as I get older, it fills me with such sadness and now apprehension.
I fear that one day I will be pulled over. That I will be asked to get out of my vehicle and before the night ends my life will. I fear that I will be stopped outside my place of business early in the morning because someone didn’t recognize me and they called the cops. I fear that I will be rushing to my child’s recital and be killed by an eager young cop.
I fear that my child may see me stopped and beaten in front of them for doing nothing more than walking through a security door and the alarm accidentally going off.
I have a lot of these fears, some worse than others, and they are with me every day. I don’t know what to do about them other than to write them down and hope they ease, and of course hope none of them ever happen.
To people who say “racism is dead” or “racism doesn’t exist,” please take a moment to review the most recent news cycle. I urge you to closely consider it not from your current point of view, but from the point of view of a young man who lives with the fears I have only because his genetics are so slightly different from your own.
I am very tall, very strong, and black. I am some cops’ worst fear, and MY fear is that one day a cop will act on theirs and I will die because of it.
And I ask everyone….is that fair?