I looked into the rearview mirror. He was white. My heart sank. I was going to die. I was going to die! I could barely stop myself from trembling. My thoughts were racing. What should I do? What did they say I should do? I couldn’t remember. My heart was beating so loudly I could barely hear my thoughts anymore. My heart rate had increased faster than Tesla's 0-60 acceleration speed, once I saw he was white. I was going to die.
It was 2018. I was working at a Spa which was an hour's drive from home. It was the first Spa job I received before launching my own business. I was not ecstatic about working at a Spa but God had other plans. I, therefore, had to humble myself.
I didn’t expect my massage license to work in Florida to take so long. For three months I wasn’t working and that ruffled my Mrs. Independent attitude. Character flaw, that I didn’t recognize God was showing me but we’ll talk more on that at another time.
Once I received my license, I realized that I would have to suck it up and first work at a Spa. But I was so turned off by this because of what I learned in school. Full time for a licensed massage therapist (LMT) is 25hrs a week. Some spas, if not most, exploit that and, would have their therapists work 40hrs a week. Hence the high turnover rate in the industry.
I had to ‘stick my tail between my legs,’ as my mother would say. So, in April (date has slipped me), I sat on our couch and wrote to God: “Lord, I don't know of any spa that would let me set my own schedule and allow me to work only 25hrs max a week. But You Lord, You have supernatural powers and with You all things are possible.”
I wasn’t even finished journaling my prayer when I received a message from an old classmate from NY. She had recently seen a post I made and noted that I now live in Florida and wanted to know if I needed a job.
Look at God! I couldn't believe it. I told her yes. She gave me the owner's number but before I could call him, he called me. We talked about the industry. We chatted for maybe half an hour and he assured me I could make whatever schedule I would like and all tips are mine. We were talking some more when he suddenly said, ‘I hope you know you’re hired.’ WHAT? No hands-on interview, no nothing? No way!
Well apparently, my classmate spoke highly of me and shared with him that she received a massage from me in school and that she would never forget my touch. God bless. I am so grateful for my gifts.
Traveling an hour or more to work isn’t new to me. Living in NY, that was the norm. Although, when I lived in Manhattan my travel time was reduced to thirty minutes. I would learn quickly that there’s a HUGE difference between being a passenger on a train, where I can nap or read a book, versus commuting for an hour and concentrating on my surroundings and being stuck during rush hour. Aye! But the view was GORGEOUS!
PC Patrick Wilson
I was leaving work. Work, as I mentioned before was an hour's drive. With rush hour which starts at 3p here, made my commute even longer. I was on I-275N making my exit unto the right lane. Then I made my way to the left lane. I was cruising. I don’t remember if I had music playing, but I was excited to be heading home. Suddenly I saw lights flashing.
I looked into the rearview mirror and indeed there was a police officer on a motorcycle weaving through traffic. I looked down at the speedometer. Phew, I wasn’t speeding. It couldn’t be for me. However, I slowed down and continued.
Now he was directly behind me. Oh shit! Trepidation creped over me.
I looked into the rearview mirror and he was signaling me to pull over. My hands shook. I looked up again. He had shades on. But I saw white cheeks, and his exposed arms were white. He’s a white cop. Instantly, I thought. I. Am. Going. To. Die!
Give me a second. Reliving that moment, still makes my hands and heart tremble. My legs feel weak. I need some water. I need a minute.
In 2019, Police killed 1,099 people. Black people were 24% of those killed, despite only making up 13% of the population. Blacks are 3x more likely to be killed by police than white people; 1.3x more likely to be unarmed compared to white people. And 99% of these killings result in the cops not being charged. Qualified Immunity. Qualified Immunity is what protects incompetent officers from prosecution. It's that as the stat reads, 99% of officers are not charged in the killings.
Imagine being in your home, snuggled in bed with your husband, boyfriend, significant other. Arms draped over him/her, pulled in close, the warmth of their body- comforting. You’re sleeping. You’re drooling. You’re snoring. AND THEN INSTANTLY AWAKENED by your front door being kicked down.
You scramble awake, reach for the gun that’s on the nightstand. Shots are fired. Your partner is hit. You return fire, defending your love and yourself.
Your love is dead. You were just sleeping. How in the world did this just happen? How would you feel?
“She had a whole plan on becoming a nurse and buying a house and then starting a family. Breonna had her head on straight, and she was a very decent person.” Taylor's mother.
Pc: New York Times Pc: People
The officers entered based on a no-knock warrant law. Their bodycams were turned off. Oh, and the men they were investigating? They lived far from Taylor’s home.
Imagine being pulled over, during a traffic stop, then arrested, then found hanged in a police cell. Sandra Bland
Pc: YW Boston
I looked into the rearview mirror. He was white.
Pc: Flikr Steve White
My heart sank. I was going to die. I was going to die! I could barely stop myself from trembling. My thoughts were racing. What should I do? What did they say I should do? I couldn't remember. My heart was beating so loudly I could barely hear my thoughts anymore. My heart rate had increased faster than Tesla's 0-60 acceleration speed, once I saw he was white. I was going to die.
God, what about me becoming a published author? What about the visions you sent me of my future? What about the dreams I had of my business? Traveling the world? I don't have enough stamps yet! God, why did you let me get married only to experience it for only 3 months? Omg Rod! Omg, my dear Rod. I love him so much. And now he's going to mourn my death. Another black woman killed by a white cop. I’m going to be in the papers. Will I even make the news? Will I become a hashtag?
I need to call Rod. If I’m going to die, he needs to hear what happened and bare witness. Can I call Rod? If I reach for my phone will he instantly start shooting? I’m risking it. With trembled hands, I speed-dialed Rod. He was sleeping. I quickly told him that I was being pulled over by a white cop. He woke up instantly! He knew what was up.
I couldn’t remember where my license was kept or where the registration was. Logic and rationale were far away. My reality was I was going to be killed. I was beginning to hyperventilate.
I’ve spoken in front of large audiences and not feel shy. I have met prestigious people and not bat an eye. I’ve been in highly pressurized situations and remained calmed. I was in the house, walking to the room I rented when I was faced with a gun pointed directly at my forehead. I didn’t flinch then. But somehow the fact that I was about to be faced with someone who swore to serve and protect me, that he could kill me simply because of my skin color... yeah I was shook.
Or maybe I would be arrested for no reason, but would my body be found hanging from a jail cell three days later?
I said a quick prayer: "Lord not today."
Rod's voice was calm and he instructed me to get my license from my wallet and the registration. The thought of reaching into my book bag and the glove box seemed like too many movements. But I risked it as the officer was getting off his bike.
“Both hands on the wheel, baby.” Came Rod’s voice. I did as instructed. I watched from my side-view mirror as he approached the driver's side of the car. I rolled down the window.
"Afternoon," he said.
I instantly burst into tears.
Pc: The Guardian
“Hey it’s okay, it’s okay.” More bawling. “Is that your license and registration in your lap?” I nodded. I couldn’t speak.
Gosh, I’m crying while writing this.
“Why don’t you hand it to me?” He asked.
My hand shook as I slowly handed the documents over.
“Hey, It’s okay. You know why I pulled you over?” I shook my head no.
I was full out sobbing. My tears were rolling down my cheek. Sandra Bland. My shoulders heaved up and down. Sandra Bland. Arrested during a traffic stop. Sandra Bland. Hung.
“It’s okay. It’s okay. You went directly into the left lane and stayed there.” I tried making sense of what he was telling me.
Oh god, he’s making shit up. I’m going to die. I started crying harder.
“It’s okay. I’m going to be right back. You wait right here.”
Moments later. “Baby, where is he?” Came Rod’s voice from the phone from the passenger seat. I couldn’t answer. I was hyperventilating too much.
Sandra Bland. I’m going to die. Sandra Bland. I’m going to die. I now live in Florida. I’m going to die. Sandra Bland. I’m going to die. I’m going to die. I’m going to die.
The officer was coming back. Somehow, I was able to relay this back to
He handed the documents back to me and I took them with trembling hands.
“Where you from?”
“I don’t want to dieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.”
"Hey, it's okay. No one is going to die. Where are you from?"
With trembled voice barely above a whisper, I said “New York.”
Wouldn’t he already know this?
“Okay. Not sure you remember this but, the left lane is only for passing.
I saw you get into the left lane and stayed there. A lot of people do it all the time. They cruise in the left lane. You’re not supposed to do that. I won’t write you a ticket.”
I was still sobbing and hiccupping.
He continued. “I’m going back to my bike. I’m going to give you a few minutes. Whenever you’re ready, start the car but don’t pull out. I’ll get in front of you and then escort you back into traffic.”
He did as promised. I lived.
Many others didn’t.
I wish I knew his name. I wish I took note of his badge number to thank him. He handled that remarkable well. He handled it as he should. He didn’t see a black woman and processed “threat.” He didn’t see a crying black woman and processed it as “guilt.”
This wasn’t my 1st time being pulled over. But with the increase of blacks dying by white cops and living in Florida, my tension has risen exponentially. I’ve taken names and memorized badges before. I’ve always been calm before. But never before was I ever so scared.
There was no reason for me to be pulled over and see that the police officer was white and think I was going to die. There is no reason for such fear.
That is not the way anyone should live.
I was having an honest conversation with my niece about the current state of affairs. She, like myself, at times feel hopeless that there will be true change and she shared, that she just didn't see the point. I was honest and transparent with her and told her that I feel like my knowledge of my history is as much as three single rice grains but that we must educate ourselves and arm ourselves with knowledge.
They barely taught our history to us in school and we have the shortest month of the year. They want us to forget. They want us to not learn. They want us brainwashed and to feel bad, (myself included, in the past) when we say "Black Lives Matter." Instead, they want us to say, “All Lives Matter.”
NO! BLACK LIVES MATTER! There’s a strong meaning behind those words that some want to be silenced. Here’s a good quick 4min comedic but real video that explains the differences.
Why are we angry? There’s so much to it but here’s a good breakdown.
What can we do?
Know who you’re electing. Legislating and voting changes history.
First, know that It’s mayors, county executives, that appoints most police chiefs. They negotiate Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) with police officers. What is CBA? CBA is “Police collective bargaining agreements contain provisions governing economic terms of employment, including wages, hours, leaves of absence, pensions, health insurance, death benefits, and so forth. Many union contracts include specific provisions protecting police officers in discipline cases." Our mayors negotiate CBAs and that determines police practices in local communities.
It’s district attorneys and state attorneys that decides to investigate and whether to charge police officers involved in misconduct. There’re also some places where police citizen review boards also known as civilian review boards, have the power to monitor police conduct and these positions are often, elected positions as well.
The intimate relationship among prosecutors, DAs, and police officers must end. Learn who they are. Any corruption, vote them out. Ending qualified immunity is also very important. The qualified immunity doctrine was created by the Supreme Court to protect police officers from lawsuits. The rationale is that if an officer is performing their duties “reasonably,” they shouldn’t be held liable for their conduct. Ya, sure. What it is, is a get out of jail free card.
Except the cops don’t even see a cell.
There’s a bill in congress right now, out to end this. Put pressure on your congressional officials.
PC: Amash, Pressley
Secondly, former President, but mentally still most of us president, Barack Obama’s 21st Century Task Force Report created a guideline for the future of policing and it provides a clear direction of how to build trust with the public. A lot of mayors and local officials read it and supported it but there was little follow-through. In a recent speech earlier this month, Obama urged mayors to review their use of force policies and to commit to reporting on plan reforms. I would like to find out if my mayor even read the 115-page report. As of the publishing of this article I have not completed it, but it would be interesting to find out if he or anyone in his office has read it or did it get filed in the trash. Reach out to your mayor’s office and find out.
Attend council meetings (online or in-person). Learn what's going on. Learn about who you’re electing and what they stand for. We can no longer afford to not show up to the polls. Even when they’re working their hardest, at voter suppression (Georgia and Iowa I see you), we MUST stand our ground. Still, show up. If voting in person is the option you choose then be physically and mentally prepared for BS if voter suppression is happening in your state. Wear comfy shoes, sacrifice and take the day off (this has to be changed. I think all election days should be a day off), pack bottles of water. Pack your patience. Bring whatever you think you may need to endure a long wait time and nonsense. Should we have to go through all this for our constitutional right? Absolutely NOT, but let’s endure a bit longer so that change can occur. The GOP is petrified of us all showing up to the polls, so let’s give them an image they will never forget.
If you live in Minnesota or know someone who does, put immense pressure on Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Attorney General to prosecute all four officers involved with the maximum amount of time. An example has to be made, a precedent set, the next time a police officer pulls out his gun or decides to use excessive unwarranted force, he will know he's about to commit murder.
White privilege is real. If you don’t think so, then just take a look at this post. You’ve probably seen that post before but it breaks it down simply. If you can do any of those things without fear then you're privileged.
And if you’re not black or white, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a role to play. As Hasan Minaj puts it: “You don’t get to just own the country’s excellence. You have to own its failures. That is the deal.” I also like his suggestions on how people can help. Donate your time and or money. If a doctor: offer free healthcare to protesters. Tech: Help black businesses get online. Lawyers: Work pro bono for protesters and so much more.
Lastly, if none of the above-mentioned things, are things you feel called to do, then at the very least, educate yourself. Learn about race and racism in America. Below is a list of movies and books in no particular order. I have not read or watched all. I suggest preparing yourself for a slew of overwhelming emotions. But most importantly, knowledge.
Pc: Pure Wow
Roots (based on the book)
12 Years a Slave
Hello, Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea
When They See Us
Self Made: Madam CJ Walker 4 episode series
Just Mercy (based on the book)
I Still Believe
Eyes on the Prize
I Am Not Your Negro
The Hate You Give
Pc: The National
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
Roots by Alex Haley
Choke Hold [Policing Black Men] by Paul Butler
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
Post Traumatic Slave Disorder by Dr. Joy Degruy
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ifeoma Oluo
Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice by Pastor Eric Mason
Third Option by Miles McPherson
The Good Life by Dr. Derwin L Gray
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Why They Call You Terrorist by Patrisse Cullors
African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz
Citizen by Claudia Rankine
Mindful of Race by Ruth King
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes
We must understand the fight and maintain our hope and trust in God for changes.
PC: Roderick Mosley
Be Safe. Remain blessed.