Tampa Campus Finalist
Social injustice impacts me every day because of my skin color. There was a time where I got pulled over for my tail light dimming off while I was driving. A state trooper pulled me over and I have a fear of police officers, so of course I was completely afraid. I also had my brother in the passenger’s seat. When he was little, a police officer pushed him down the stairs on a school bus so, he immediately called 9-1-1 when the sirens turn on behind me. The trooper came to my driver’s side and said, “You didn’t do anything wrong, just your tail light went out. But just in case, license and registration.”
While I am reaching for my license in my bag, I hear my brother on the phone telling the operator that he is scared. The operator asked him what was wrong and he explained to her he was fearing for his life and he was scared because we just got pulled over. As I handed the trooper my license, the operator tells us to calm down and ask us where we were and our ethnicity. We tell her that we are African Americans and before we could tell her where we were located she told us “This is not an emergency and to call the non-emergency line” and hung up on us. We were completely in shock so he hurried and called the non-emergency line and she sent another cop to us. While the trooper was coming back to the car, he saw another cop car arriving and he began to get furious and asked, “who called 9-1-1? “I responded saying, “We were scared so we called. This is our first time ever getting pulled over.” He looked at my brother and said “What did I do to you for you to call 9-1-1? Give me your license.”
We are confused because he was not the driver. “Why do you need his license?” I asked. He looked at me and said, “to make sure my brother is legal.” As the other police car arrived to the scene he became more and more angry yelling and screaming at us through the passenger seat window. Thankfully, the other trooper was also African American and told the other police officer he needed to calm down. He took my brother’s license away from the other officer and gave it back to us and said “y’all are good to go” with a smile that simply said I’m sorry about this, you guys are good to leave.
I was hesitant to put my car in drive and leave because I knew what the other officer was capable of just by the look in his PURE black eyes. I believe that if the other officer would have never come, it would have been over for one of us that night.
I want a change in our system and in how the world looks at black lives before we become extinct. We are being used for our organs, our uterus, and many more. Black people get a 30-40% longer sentences for the same crime a white person would. A black man without a record is unlikely to get a job before a white man with a felony. I want people of all races to come together and see what we have to go through every day and change it so we can all chant “all live matter”. But first, we have to fix what’s going on with black lives all over for all lives to matter. If all lives mattered, we wouldn’t have to chant black lives matter.