Living While Black: Everyday Activities

Walking in my neighborhood this morning and around 7:30, I see two police cars pull onto the street. I don’t usually see the 5-0 in my neighborhood, but it looked like they were leaving a meeting. Anywho, I keep it moving; I have steps to get in. So about a quarter-mile down I have walked down onto a different street when I look up and see one of the same police vehicles driving very slowly up the street in my direction. I look at the passing vehicle and the officer is peering at me through the window. His eyes were fixed. At first I thought, yes, I know why you’re looking. It’s these biscuit-made hips or my brown butter smooth skin glistening in the sunlight. Then, I thought, calm down Terry McMillan, this ain’t no social call.So I keep it moving. I’ll be doggoned, when I get to the end of the street to turn out toward the main drag, there goes the officer again. THE SAME ONE! Now, I am concerned. 1.) I walk ever day. The neighbors are neighborly and we know each other; I even know their pets. Buuuuut, will they vouch for me? 2.) Why do I need someone to vouch for me in MY OWN neighborhood? I don’t need papers to show I belong. 3.) Did I fit the description of a suspect on the loose at 7am on a Tuesday near the retirement center and park? Well at least one of my characteristics fit…the only one that would probably matter to them if they were looking for a “suspect”. 4.) Or did I look especially threatening in my Air Max and compression pants listening to an audible book whilst walking for exercise by myself so that no one else’s droplets can mingle with my droplets at the gym so I took my fitness outside to lower my chances of getting the plague….and breathe.

I don’t know the issue, but I actually feared that if something were to happen to me today at the hands of law enforcement (using that label loosely), who would be there to help me? Would anyone hear my cry? Would there be a bystander who would keep their camera rolling on my behalf? It is usually a peaceful walk, but today my thoughts of how quickly life can change and/or end, wore me down faster than the heat of the summer sun.

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