“Lucky This Time.”
I was 16 when I started driving and, um, I was 16 the first time I was pulled over. I remember it was about 2:00 AM on a Saturday. I don’t remember where I was coming from. It was 2:00 AM. Um, so the officer shined his light on my rear view mirror. He jumped out of his car with his hand over the, on his weapon and looked at me the same way a tsunami would look at a beach house. Instantly I had a flashback of the talk which unfortunately every Black kid in America is taught how to respond when confronted by police. I could definitely tell that this man was the kind of man who brings a gun to a pool party.
He called me son. And I thought to myself. Huh? That’s an interesting way you’re pronouncing boy. He asked for my license and registration, what I was doing in that nice neighborhood, where the console is, did I have drugs. And most days I know how to grab my voice by a handle like a pen. But instead I picked it up, like he shot a glass.
You’re scared of what might happen if I didn’t hold it, because I know that this much melanin and that uniform gives a perfect plot line to a film that is scripted to end where they talk out loud [audible] of me trying to make a body bag look stylish for the camera and becoming the latest coat in a closet full of RIP hashtags.
I recall the question, why aren’t there Black people in there? And I said, wow. You dont get it. Being Black is one of the most extreme sports from our group. We don’t need to invent new ways, original ones, because the old ones have been working perfectly fine for decades. Jim Crow may have listened to us. But as you can see, I was treated to cover with his feathers.
Being Black in America is knowing that there is a thin line between a simple traffic stop and the cemetery. It’s the way that my body tenses up when I hear police out, even in the phone. It’s the equivalent in my stomach when a cop comes behind me. And the relief when I turned right, and he doesn’t. I don’t need to go skydiving or bungee jumping.
I have an adrenaline rush everytime a police officer drives past me without pulling me over. Because the only thing that matters to me is that I’ll make it home alive.
And I’m lucky. This time.
Thank you for the time comrade.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.