Tuesday, July 19, 2016

"Getting Home"

Psalm 27:1

1The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?

Last week on Wendy Williams, Roland Martin discussed what parents can tell their African-American children in the face of violence and excessive use of force. He said their job is to "get home." Some of you may not be ready for this revelation. When it comes to children "getting home" many African-Americans are thinking specifically about their male children. I, as a female had my own encounter with the police at age thirteen. It was one that could have easily ended my life. 

The school year had just started. It was an early evening one Friday in late August. My Mom had been working multiple jobs to make ends meet. She left me money to get a sub and my favorite soda from the store around the corner. I took the path through the courtyard and the little walkway which divided our complex from the back of the storefronts. Nothing seemed unusual. I went into the store to pick up my favorite choice of 6inch sub and soda. I stood in line, paid for the items and out the door I went. My route back home was to be the same as I come. Just after I went through the walk way I heard a flurry of whispers. I was still around the corner but figured it must be a group of people entering the apartment building I was coming around the corner of. 

And then I saw it! Before I could blink to get a clear visual of everyone I heard, I saw the barrel of a 9mm hand gun pressed to my forehead. That split second seemed to last eternity. On the opposite side of the 9mm handgun was a White police officer. He said nothing. He simply looked like he had an adrenaline rush and I was going to be the unfortunate recipient of his adrenaline.  I was afraid to move or speak so I stood still only looking at his eyes. I knew if I did, it would be too late and someone would be calling or visiting my mother at work to say her child was shot point blank. I had walked into the middle of preparations for a drug raid. The culprits were a young white couple in the building. I went to school with the female's sister. There were no barriers to separate the public from the police. They were attacking all entrances of the building. It took a minute for him to realize I was not part of the raid, nor someone they were after. When he lowered his weapon and motioned his head for me to go. I ran!! I ran so fast and refused to stop until I was inside the home. My nerves were bad and my hands were shaking. When I sat down to eat I could barely hold the bottle of soda in my hand. I was experiencing anxiety. The real anxiety that at thirteen years old, I was one second away from being shot by a police officer. I had no weapons, I was not a drug dealer, user or anything. I was simply an African-American teenager getting home. 

What Roland Martin said was real to me last week. I do understand. I do not hate the police. They have a job to do. Many of my family members have served this country in uniform. But it does not take away the fear that is as real as the air you and I breathe. Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it is not real. Praying for safety and protection of children is a must. Police officers understanding cultural differences in an effort to protect and serve is a must.  I will NEVER forget that day! It was real and anyone who EVER says that it isn't doesn't know what it means to experience it. Read the book "Black Like Me"  by John Howard Griffin. As a White man he transformed himself to become a Black man in the south during segregation.  He had a taste of what life was like for an African-American.