Hi … I’m a black man

In case you haven’t heard, there is some interesting news relating to my kind and the police. Seemed like a fitting time for me to talk about my story.

I was born in the 80’s and grew up in the 90’s, with my formative years spent in the DC area. The majority in Prince George’s County is known at the time for its high rate of police initiated shootings & deaths. Personally, had no issues with the police, because I avoided them with every ounce of my being.

A Lifetime of Fear and Realization

It wasn’t until recently I finally realized something about myself. I have always been terrified of the police. I learned a fact that rocked my whole world as I approached my 30s and moved from the DMV to sunny California. Most people in America trust and depend on the police.

The Ingrained Fear of Police in My Life

I mean like “I love the police for keeping me safe”. I’m talking “I feel better when a cop is around me” and “I ask the police for help” type of trust. Maybe obvious to most, but not to me. Conversing with the police, I’m aware, might lead to being shot. The possibility of a traffic stop ending in my death is something I’ve come to realize. And I’ve harbored no illusions that seeking help from the police would safeguard me from potentially fatal encounters. It was their job to shoot people, especially while black. It was as much a fact of life as the sky being blue. I knew it was bad for black people, but I assumed everyone hated the police.

See Also:  Why People Can't Stand Relationship "Experts"

I learned to walk … then I learned to not walk near the police.

#BlackLivesMatter: A New Slogan to an Old Problem

So, when the #BlackLivesMatter campaign started and deaths at the hands of police officers were coming to light, I’ll be honest… I wasn’t that mad. How could I be? It was like being mad at a skunk for stinking or at a baby for crying. In my world, the fear of police and police killing people like me was natural. My Caribbean parents had warned me throughout my lifetime not to talk to them, give them any trouble, or reach for anything. They would shoot me.

The outrage that others felt didn’t resonate with me. It was impossible to channel my energy into what seemed like a new issue because, in reality, it was an old one – simply part of life. Watching one video, I caught myself thinking, ‘Why did he run?’ and I felt shame. “Doesn’t he know he’s gonna get shot?!”

And that … that is the problem.

Confronting the Injustice

How did I become instantly ostracized from this public service? The ‘protection’ force, funded by my taxes, seems out of reach. The fear of a routine traffic stop looms as large as the dread of an armed robbery. Maybe I’m the only one who was mad they weren’t mad. Maybe it came naturally to me. Avoiding the police naturally for over 30 years may have given me the impression that it didn’t personally affect me. But things are different. We have a black president (literally a joke as a kid … remember Head of State). The progress we’ve made is incredible (unfinished, but good as sh*). I can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t accept the same terms my parents came to America on.

See Also:  15 Things Black People Love about the Summer

The Impact of Fear of Police and the Need for Fair Policing

This isn’t just a problem for those who have died or will die at the hands of unnecessary police force. Living in fear of the people you pay to protect you forces you into a state of constant anxiety. This is an unfair denial of service by everyone with a dark skin tone. This is wrong.

A Personal Reflection and a Collective Responsibility

Many of you don’t need another reason to feel outraged. But, my hope is if there is another person who was internally wrestling with how to respond, this helps you understand why this affects us all. We deserve police officers who protect and serve us too.

– SBM aka Woke

*image credit 1; image credit 2