We all have them. People who look like me. Stories of times we were treated unfairly and the only underlying issue is that the person responsible had an issue with, people who look like me.
I was maybe about….17 so my brother was 9(he was also already my height about 5’6″), and the youngest was 2.
I decided to be a good big sister and take them to the park down the street from our home. My mother ALWAYS hated this. The park was a block away, but she couldn’t SEE us, so it was too far for her liking, even though I was 17, basically a “woman”, right?
Anyway, we get to the park, my 9 year old brother walks in with his new bike and a few of his friends are also there. They walk up to each other and do some weird goofy handshake and proceed to play. There are Pokémon cards pulled out at some point, and I keep noting how extremely uneasy this woman at the park is. She’s taller than me, red hair that is tucked into a bun, wearing a maternity romper type thing, and sporting a HUGE baby bump. She happens to be the mother of my brother’s friend, and she keeps calling him over to check him out as if my brother has something contagious and he will contract it and have immediate symptoms. I knew exactly what her problem was.
This was a small park, playground equipment, a few benches, etc….i was sitting on one of the only unoccupied benches, keeping tabs on my brothers, holding on to random toys, water bottles, etc(I was SUCH a mom, LOL). Meanwhile, this woman stood at the entry gate the whole time with a backpack on, stroller in hand ready to roll out. I offered her a seat and she pretended not to hear me.
Another woman and I exchanged a glance. Its that bit of “telepathy”, if you will. A look that said, “she’d rather stand there and suffer, than to sit near you or I”. This woman, sitting at the other bench, which also had plenty of space, looked like me.
Our playtime came to an abrupt end when this standing woman thought it was ok to discipline my brother for playing with her children.
Her: “He’s just running around with the rest of the kids like its ok!”
Me: “Ma’am, he’s 9 years old, and your son knows him from school. They play all the time. Why would it not be ok now?”
She walked away without saying anything. Shortly after, I noticed her on her phone, and knew it was TIME to go home. The other family at the park also began packing it up, and the lady who looked like me asked if we needed a ride home. I told her, we only live a block away, so we should be fine.
Less than a block from the park, we were swarmed by police and asked if we knew anything about the bikes being stolen in the area. My brother was walking with HIS brand new bike, his other one was stolen 2 weeks prior from our backyard.
One officer jumped out, gun pointed and stayed that way the whole time the other 2 officers questioned us. Anytime I spoke, he told me to shut up and he wanted to hear from “the man standing next to me”. I gave him our address(I could see the tree outside our house from where we were), told him our ages, and suggested that he get my mother because he couldn’t legally question us without an adult present(come through FLHS Pre-law!).
That pissed him off, and he said he was going to take us to the station and detain us, as well as impound my brother’s bike. I knew that my mother would’ve set that station on fire if that happened, AND we would never get my brother’s bike back.
The woman whose house we were in front of came outside because she saw what was going on and told them, “These kids live down the block! Go catch real criminals and don’t point your guns at babies!”
They told her that she needed to go inside and let them handle this. She took down their badge numbers and called city hall, right then. She stood on her doorstep the whole time.
About 10 minutes later, we were released and the officer put his gun down. We walked the rest of the way home, and my brothers 9 and 2 were oblivious. I never told my parents about it. I just came home and went to my room. I’m sure it was probably just written off as being a teenager.
I want to say, that neighbor was a rockstar. I was too shaken to thank her, or even acknowledge what she really did for us. I saw her many times after that and all I could do was wave. If she had not been there, I doubt North Lauderdale cops would have been disciplined for pulling a gun on, and possibly shooting 3 Black children.
To this day it enrages me that some lady, wasted her 1999 cell phone minutes to call the cops on my brother for playing with a child he knew from school. EVEN THOUGH her son knew him, walked up to him and addressed him by name, did some silly handshake thing and all….we were a threat. A 17 year old, a 9 year old, and a 2 year old.
This story is the FIRST time, I can remember a cop pointing his gun at me. I’ve also never been arrested, and only been ticketed twice in my life. The interactions, however are numerous. Let that sink in.
My melanin is my armor, not a weapon.
This is why Black Lives Matter. No life matters more or less than another, however Black Skin is too often seen as a threat or a weapon and treated as though the life that holds it is disposable.
My heart has been HEAVY these past weeks, and it’s been really hard seeing what’s happening. But it is GREAT to see some change.