- Posted July 24, 2008 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Black in America
Scared to be black because I fit the description
I'm really proud CNN has decided to do this documentary because I don't think the average non black american person understands the disparity of treatment that black men receives when compared to other races. My biracial ex-wife who was adopted and raised by her white parents and grew up in a majority all white community didn't understand what the average black man had to deal with until she took me to visit her parents in Centralia, Washington. We had gone with her father to the grocery store and I tried to buy some beer and one of the white store clerks would not sell me the beer because I had an out of state driver's license. She never gave me the benefit of the doubt that my drivers license were real. I could have argued my point but being that I was the only black man in the store I didn't want to be looked at as the angry black man causing trouble even though I had every right to purchase the beer. The store clerk immediately made a determination in her mind that I was not trustworthy because I was black. If I had been white with an out of state ID, I'm sure I wouldn't have had a problem making the purchase. My ex wife's father had to purchase the beer for me to his embarrassment but thought the clerk was just following proper store orders. It was obvious to me that he didn't understand what I had just gone through, how could he, he's not black.
Although the story I just told is about 15 years old I still live with it everyday. It has left a scar that in some ways will never completely heal. That's the reason I'm writing this, I think we as Black men want society to feel what we go through on a daily basis. It's sad that I feel scared and don't want to come out of the house when the police bulletin states that they are looking for a 6 ft Black male, between 170-200lbs, because I know I fit that description. I worry I will get pulled over and some police officer decides to shoot first and ask questions later.
Writing this has brought up another ordeal I had about 3 months ago. I'm a 39yr old middle class black man who works for ATT advertising in Tucker, GA. I live out in the suburbs and if you live in Atlanta, you know to leave early to avoid the traffic. One morning I was getting into my car when I saw a Kennesaw police officer with his search light on slowly patrolling the neighborhood. I immediately thought here we go, this can't be good. I already knew he was going to stop me because I was black. He pulled next to my vehicle and asked me if I would get out of my truck which was park by my driveway. He then stated he needed to contact his precinct to notify them he was getting out of his vehicle which he stated was their normal procedure. He then wanted to know if I lived in the townhouse I was park outside of. I told him I did and then he wanted me to recite the address to him. He then asked me had I been walking through yards in the neighborhood. He said the reason he stopped to question me was because I had on a tan jacket and they had received a call that someone with a tan jacket was walking through resident's yards. I was dressed in slacks, dress shoes, a nice leather coat, it was obvious that I wasn't the person he was looking for or if he was looking for someone at all, but he decided to stop me and in my opinion harass me because of the color of my skin. He then stated he didn't think it was me and continued to go through the subdivision. He spooked me so bad I went inside and awaken my fiance' whom I live with and told her I didn't feel comfortable leaving at that moment, because I felt the officer was still going to harass me some more. She asked me did I want her to walk outside with me and I told her I did, she looked out the window and the officer had made it back around and was parked across the street with his vehicle pointed directly at our house. The officer finally left after sitting there for about five minutes. I was scared of mistaken identity and I knew by being black I was already a suspect. I shouldn't have to be scared to be black.