This is a reminder to all those around me of how close you really are to what is going on in the U.S.
When I got these alerts, I was just exiting the expressway and was on campus. I saw it pop up in my phone but I didn’t pay any attention to it until I parked in the parking lot. That’s when my heart dropped.
They were looking for a 6’2 black male? Well, that’s me. They were looking for a black male with locks? I just got my hair braided (so I could focus on my candidacy exams and not worry about hair maintenance) but then I asked myself “Do cops—or white people period—know the difference between locks, box braids, and cornrows?” and then I started crying because I had red in the middle of my shirt. Four out of five of the details fit me, but I’m already on campus so what do I do?
If the police see me do you think they will just drive by, knowing I fit almost all of the details? If they are looking for an armed black man do you think they will be friendly with me? Because I am above average height and build, do you think they will go easy on me?
If I stay in the car, somebody might mistake me for the armed and dangerous person and call the cops on me, so I leave the car thinking of what happened to Diamond Reynolds might happen to me next. I think about all the black men who have been killed because they reached for something so I take my student ID out and keep it in my hand so I don’t have to reach for anything. What would have happened if I didn’t have my ID on me?
I wait until no one is around and leave the car because I don’t want anyone thinking I’m the suspect and they try to take “justice” into their own hands and I end up like Trayvon Martin. I usually listen to music while walking through campus but I didn’t want to die because I didn’t follow anyone’s orders to get on the ground. I didn’t want my music to kill me so I kept my earphones in my pocket.
This was the longest quarter mile walk of my life. The entire time I’m trying to think of ways to stay alive if I get approached. If I get tackled by five cops I hope my airways isn’t closed off. I remember my building is in the middle of campus, and I’m hoping I don’t see a cop car (although I usually do).
I’m halfway there but I have to walk past a busy street where cars are always coming and going and I’m just hoping the cops are not called on me. Each car that drives by, I look to see if they pick up their phone when they drive by. A few did, but I don’t know if they were calling the cops or not.
I made it to my office, closed the door, and started crying. My chest is tight, I can’t breath, and all the black men that died before me rush to my conscious to remind me that I’m still a nigga. To remind me that I’m never safe. To remind me that I’m always a suspect.
Growing up in Memphis always taught me to watch my surroundings but today I had to be hyper-vigilant. But this isn’t the end. If the suspect is not found, I will ALWAYS have to carry my ID in my hand walking across campus. I will have to be conscious about what time I leave campus and what time I get to campus.
This is just a glimpse of the black male experience in the U.S. Don’t think my education has EVER made me exempt from the racial order. And don’t think I’ve been blind to what is going on. I’m just fighting this injustice on a different stage. #mylifematters#blacklivesmatter