I’m 15 years old. Walking at night in a bad neighborhood with a baseball bat over my shoulder.
Police lights. A patrol car swerves into the 7-11 parking lot I’m crossing. Cop jumps out with gun drawn. Screams at me to drop the bat. I drop it and get my hands up.
Once he’s calmed down he’s askin’ me why I’m carrying a bat. I tell him I’m on my way to a softball game. He observes that it’s midnight. I explain that we use glow in the dark balls.
Having nothing to hold me for, he lets me go.
* * *
16 years old. I’ve been caught shoplifting. Cop’s askin where my parents live for the third time. For the third time I reply, “Fuck you, pig.”
He backhands me from out of nowhere. My ears are ringing as he kicks me in the stomach and the ribs repeatedly. When he finishes, he asks again. I immediately give him my father’s number. The store clerk is visibly shaken.
They do not show up to the trial and the case is dismissed.
* * *
22 years old. I’ve pulled off the side of the highway to grab a nap because I’ve been driving too long and I’m all over the road. I’m woken up by a sharp rapping on the window. Cop’s screaming at me to show him my hands. I comply.
I get out of the car when told to. He writes me a ticket while I complain the whole time. Tells me to “have a nice day” as he hands it to me. Something in me snaps at that, and I tell him to fuck off. Next thing I know my face is repeatedly being slammed against the hood of his car.
He stops, gets in his car and drives off.
* * *
24 years old. I’m serving time in a work release program at the shooting range, doing landscaping. I’ve gone and hit a deputy because I got sick of his riding me all day. Knocked him over and chased him down an incline, kicking at him every few feet.
At the bottom of the hill his co-workers jump me and I am subdued. I serve the rest of my time in the city jail. On the way there, the deputy transporting me pulls over and takes off my cuffs. Remarks that no one can stand the guy I hit.
We stop for Mickey D’s before he takes me in to get processed.
* * *
In every one of these situations, to a greater or lesser degree I was at fault. I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. I was young, rebellious, and abiding by the law was the furthest thing from my mind.
It’s vital that you understand this: I did stupid things as a young man that could have gotten me killed – but didn’t. Things that if I was a young black man, I likely wouldn’t have survived.
I’m alive today because I’m white.
If you don’t get that? You haven’t been paying attention.
It’s time for us to start speaking up. Please share your own experiences in the comments.
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