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Don’t Shoot.

I remember it clearly. I could even take you to the location of where. It’s 2009. The cop car’s door is wide open. His hand is on his hip, inches from the gun. I’m standing about five feet away just trying to meet a friend. I’m unsure if I’m even going to make it past this situation. Honestly, it kind of makes me nervous telling this story, but here we go.

There are two apartments adjacent to each other. One has a gate, and the other doesn’t. To my request, my mother dropped me off in between the two apartments because my friend lived in the gated apartment in the back.

I didn’t want to bother my friend to come get me, so I decided to wait until a car came by to open the gate so I can walk in afterwards. Who hasn’t done that at least once? So I’m standing around in the parking lot of the other apartment waiting for a car to come through the back gate, and one does, just not through the gate and not the car I want to see. A police vehicle comes to the parking lot and stops horizontally (covering up three parking spots) to approach me. I kid you not, he was jammin’ the rapper, Slim Thug, in the car. I’ll never forget it hearing it behind his cold stare.

He immediately steps out and asks me what I’m doing here. I tell him, “I’m trying to see a friend.” I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I do know that he straight up decided that I was lying and asked me if I was selling drugs. I looked at him with a bit of disgust and said, “No, I’m not selling drugs.” I felt disrespected because at that point, I’ve seen certain drugs, but I’ve never held or sold any in my life. So don’t approach me like you just know I have.

He puts his hand near his gun like a cowboy in a western film. At the sight of that motion, I didn’t do or say anything. I was frozen. Was he really going to pull a gun because of where I’m standing? This sounds like the move of a gang member in 80s Compton.

He then threatens to arrest me for trespassing since he realized I was not bullshittin’ about not having drugs. He wasn’t going to let me go without a struggle. Back then, I was completely naive to how to deal with an aggressive officer. Long story short, I had to nervously call my friend and tell him to come outside for him to confirm that I was coming to see him for the cop to let me go. So my initial plan to not have my friend come outside failed.

After that day, I never saw the police the same. I was a good teen. Yes, I’ve made mistakes, but never anything to the point where I should be jailed or harassed for it. He didn’t know me. He saw the environment, he saw my skin, and assumed I was up to no good.

I continue to think about that day and think, “What if I was shot just trying to see a friend?” I’ve met so many people since then. I’ve touched so many lives and many lives have touched me since then. I think about my old friends and new friends. My family and my students. The people that look up to me and those I look up to. None of that would have happened. My life was just beginning at age 17 in 2009. It’s not healthy to be stuck in what ifs, but what if??

His race doesn’t matter. His intentions doesn’t matter. The fact that he was bangin’ Slim Thug doesn’t matter. What matters is a good kid was shook that day because of assumptions, power trippin’, and a societal look at my kind.

I was able to talk my way out of a bad situation by trying stay calm and thinking on the fly; I was thinking of every way to get out of this situation, but I was also lucky because any of my movements could have been enough for him to pull and shoot.

Thank God he didn’t do it. I have too much to offer to this world. If only he saw the same.

P.S. If you would like to listen to a song I made about this topic, click the link below. (Explicit Content)

“Tired”

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