My citizenship is dichotomous. In one moment, I am just a man ‘free and joyous.’
In the next, I am a carefully watched foreigner, treading cautiously in ‘an enemy’s land.’
— Frederick Douglass
I am one black man who has certainly had more close encounters with disrespectful, racist and violent cops than I can stand.
I’ve encountered them while I was chillin’ in my parked car minding my own business and also while I was walking into my own house. Similar to the tragically unfortunate Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by a wannabe cop in Sanford, Florida in 2012, I encountered abuse when a strange white guy with a gun went on a self-assigned mission to check me out and hunt me down. This strange white guy was no neighborhood watchman or racially corrupt wannabe cop. He was a racially corrupt real cop—in full uniform and with his loaded gun pointed in my un-shrouded face, right between my eyes.
I am a middle-aged, college-educated man, but because of racial profiling and other forms of racialized law enforcement, I have been treated like a monster, an enemy combatant and a fearsome criminal.
I detest crime. If only my disdain towards trifling criminals could prevent me from being treated like one. But it never will.
It is clear to me that the best way for me to fight back is to speak out—to tell my story, propose solutions and encourage others to step forward and offer their own stories and solutions, like drummers joining a drum line beating out one irrepressible, overriding message: This national problem must be solved.
It is also clear to me that every black American male who is affected by this problem has not only the responsibility, as a citizen, to do his part to inform the rest of the nation about the problem, but also a tremendous opportunity to serve his country by doing so.
The good news is that throughout history Americans have proven to be willing to change their minds when presented with enough evidence.
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
I love this sweet country with all of my heart. This is my country. America was built on the backs of me my foreparents. Their horrific sacrifice cannot be denied. Their labor fueled America’s economic engines and enlivened its culture.
I am a pride-filled, “America the Beautiful” singing, swaggering patriot. I have travelled far but always returned, for this is my home. I belong here as much as anyone. If I did not want to be here, I wouldn’t be here.
Though America may never embrace me the way I warmly embrace her, my soul will not rest until she shows me the same sincere respect that I so willingly show her. Anything less from her and those who enforce her laws is totally unacceptable.
Like all citizens, I deserve America’s best. And I am determined to get it.
With that said, let me tell you my story.
Buckle your seatbelt, and prepare to witness what happens far too often to a black man in America when the majority is not looking. Come hear my soldier’s story. See why a black man tends to shout and protest and rage against the law machine.
Come take a ride with me through some of the war zones of our nation.
Before they encountered the guns, fists and choking hands of overly aggressive police officers, Tamir Rice was playing with a toy gun, Walter Scott was engaged in a slow moving sprint, University of Virginia honor student Martese Johnson had been turned away from a bar he was trying to enter on St. Patrick’s Day, Eric Garner and Alton Sterling were selling cigarettes and homemade CDs, respectively, outside a convenience store, and Philando Castile was driving his car with his girlfriend and her sweet and strong little daughter in the backseat.
Here’s what I was doing before I encountered the guns of overly aggressive cops on a cool summer night near in Washington, DC when I was 41 years old: I had just left work and was driving my sleek black Porsche with silver phone dial rims at moderate speeds around midnight.
The roadways were clear and I was thoroughly enjoying every single moment—just me, my ride and the road …
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