Disappearance in Midday or, A Woman of Color vs Princeton Police

Morning all, and happy Black History Month. It’s chugging along, isn’t it? As I sit here, half in wonder of the reactions to Beyonce’s insta-hit “Formation” and some old man named Romanowski who called the Panthers’ Cam Newton a “boy,” something much more personal weighs on me.

It didn’t happen to me. But it could have. Instead, it happened to a friend and peer, a roommate from college, a mother and professor, author and activist. She was not allowed a phone call, was taken to a police station, and handcuffed to a table…for a parking ticket. I urge you to read her story, presented to you without edits, and share it. When they ask us why we “get to have” Black History Month, it’s because of stories like these. Because this still happens. Because I blinked and woke up in a police state.

*** Continue reading “Disappearance in Midday or, A Woman of Color vs Princeton Police”

Blacking

basic silhouette1-blackI’m intelligent. I have perspective, can put events and people in context. I know what’s happening in my country is #NotAllCops, but the latest video making the rounds (a teenage girl of color violently dragged from her high school desk by a cop for having a cell phone) makes me livid to the point of catatonia. It’s hard to concentrate, or work effectively, when the men in the white hats are exuding pure darkness. I resent the force hired to protect us, and coldness is setting in. They face danger in doing their jobs…. And?

I don’t want to feel this way; I don’t want to pass beat cops with disgust, or look through them as if transparent, or feel indifferent as to their safety. But I’m human, and I can only see people who look like me abused, assaulted, and killed for so long before the rage bubbles up. I don’t want to call them in an emergency. I don’t want to see their uniforms, I don’t want to trust them to be the good guys, New York’s “finest” (as vague a term as I’ve ever heard). From what I’ve learned this summer, I shouldn’t drive, lean against a hotel, attend a BBQ, turn my back in a wheelchair. And I *definitely* shouldn’t be a teen with a cell phone in school. To quote a friend, I should basically avoid “blacking while black.” Where does it leave me?

Currently it leaves me with resentment, bitterness, numbness. It leaves me with a humanity I struggle to hold together as its foundation is tested almost daily. It makes me feel less like myself and more like a stranger who wants to spit epithets & demand retribution. All of which would undoubtedly give those cloaked in blue an easy fallback that I’m disgruntled, violent, needing to be locked up. And as we know, even a local jail may be a death sentence.

What I can do now is take breaks. From media, social or otherwise. From the endless parade of videos. A traffic stop gone wrong. A stop and frisk gone wrong. A cell phone mistaken for a gun are you f*cking kidding me gone wrong. I’m meditating, and praying, and leaning on my humor and the humor of my friends, because I feel threatened. Not in a vague sense. I feel directly threatened as a black woman in this country, and currently, ironically, and unhappily, I have to choose to ignore the plight of others some days to save my sanity. I feel off balance, traitorous, cold blooded. In this way I survive. Every day I hope to do more than that, but for today, my armor is thick. It weighs me down, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s what I have. I want to move through the world today safe. Time will tell if I do.


The summer of my discontent…

If cops are so worried about safety & privacy in having their names revealed to the public, perhaps they should stop killing the unarmed?* The victims’ names and reputations are immediately dragged though the mud on news channels everywhere, even if the info is unsubstantiated and simply backs up a cop’s version of events. (Statistically speaking, it’s impossible for all this violence to be justified & responsive.) If you’re man enough to shoot down a teen, sir, why not be man enough to claim it? Step forward, you four officers stopped by EMT workers from beating a person to death. You’re called New York’s finest for a reason, no? Let’s see your faces and know your names! #Illwaitrighthere

blue line

 

*I am nearly speechless with anger & grief over escalating cop vs. person of color violence taking place within the last two months. Someone must be held accountable, and that person is not the young, dead and unarmed, his name slandered, her past sifted through for all hints of impropriety. In what other community is a person given paid leave after murdering another human being? I’m over the excuses, the illegal chokeholds, the unbelievable insensitivity given to recent deaths. I’m over the thin blue line.