Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Past Demons Part II

My first actual face to face with a possible racial attack was not my only one. As the year progressed, so did racism. When I was twelve years old, I went into a Rid Aid store located on the corner where drug dealers and gang violence were common. Inside, I bought myself a Pepsi because it had been a hot day and I had been raking leaves all morning trying to make some money for my sisters and me. Nevertheless, I walk outside and there stood the same cop that checked me that day in the park. I knew it was the same cop because I could not forget the face, since I was still not completely aware of the realism between society and racism. He looked at me and immediately suspected. He started to walk in my direction but I proceeded to walk away. He called me outside of my name, “boy”, he said, in his false Southern accent. I stopped, immediately turning around and talking back. “I didn’t do anything”, I said, not out of suspicion, but rather curiosity. He looked me up and down, beginning to suspect that I had done something wrong. “There has been a lot of drug dealing around here. You aren’t dealing?” He said to me. I got offended and instantly attacked, “no, but if you keep looking, you might find someone.” I knew about drugs since I was ten, but I had never been a dealer of drugs before. He stared at me and then grabbed me by my arm and threw me on the wall of the store and started frisking me for any contraband. Then, I got stereotypical. I started swearing him out of his name and screaming to the top of my lungs. My mom was at home with my grandfather and my sisters and I was a while walk down the road. He finished checking me and let me go. I was angry. By then my mom had told me about how cops handle young “thugs” of the street and they categorize you before you say anything. I held my tong and walked home. An hour later, I walked through my door upset and my grandfather started asking me where I was. I told him I went to the store, eventually getting frisked by a cop because I looked suspicious once again. He stared at me and told me a piece of advice that I have not forgotten to this day. He said, “Be careful because you never know who or what is watching you. Stay alert and always be polite, even when you know they are in the wrong.” At first, I did not understand what he meant. Only until the next time did I truly contemplate those words of wisdom and only then did I realize that racism exist, even when you are too na├»ve to know about it.

Put yourself in my position. I have dealt with racism and stereotyping my entire life. These may sound likes “stories” but they are reality. It still does exist. However, in this incident, it is more blatant that stereotyping and racism occurred and that I was a victim.

5 comments:

  1. I have a few more if you are interested in reading more. I don't mind doing them during my free time, they are memories I live with and morals I live by

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  2. This is a very sad story. Stereotyping is a big problem our society faces today, and fighting a mentality, as we have seen in the Civil Rights Movement, is not an easy thing to conquer. I hope I am able to raise my kids just as my parents have raised me. I believe people should be judged by their character and their actions rather than their skin color, race, or religion. We must learn to celebrate diversity.

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  4. Caroline Mulloy said...
    I hate reading a story like this. It is a shame that this particular police officer took advantage of his position and used intimidation on an unsuspecting victim. The advice from your grandfather is very wise. Even in an incident like this, the bigger person always walks away the victor, even if it does not feel that way at the time. I also agree with Cameron that people should be judged by who they are inside and not their appearance. I also reiterate that it is our responsibility as a generation to set examples for those older and younger than us and show that stereotypes are not healthy for societal relations, especially between different races. I just read a quote the other day that applies to this, "In a world defined by difference, our strength depends on our common humanity." At the end of the day, we share this humanity no matter the color of our skin or where we live.

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  5. It sounds like this police officer really had it out for you. I can't believe that he stopped you twice in such a short span of time. This reminds me a lot of the urban police brutality cases we were talking and reading about in class. While he didn't beat you or seem to cause you physical damage, the fact that he is racially stereotyping you and using the fact that you are black to claim that you "look suspicious" should be a crime. It continues to be extremely difficult to battle the system, or government organizations like the police in today's society when they are doing the wrong thing, especially regarding the protection of racial equality.

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