A few months ago my son Steve visited
me and my friends at the Risky Raccoon Kasino Hotel where we were
staying for a powwow. My son told us he got pulled over by a cop and
my mother’s heart skipped a beat; I immediately thought he was
being racially profiled and thoughts of all the recent slayings of
unarmed black men by police made me catch my breath.
Steve pulled a copy of the report out
of his pocket and showed it to us, it was a warning and then he said,
“Look closer.” The police officer had checked the ‘white’ box
where there was a choice for race. I looked at him and said
“Whaaaaaat?” He was still pretty brown as far as I could tell, I
mean I’m Native and his father is African-American so his being
mistaken for white even though we also have French ancestors was
rather a stretch. So I did what anyone would do. I laughed but since
then I have pondered why?
Why? Why did he let him go? It came to
me that police officers have to turn in their papers after each shift
and perhaps the cop didn’t want his brethren to know he let an
innocent brown man off with only a warning! I have convinced myself
that was the why and wherefore because of the extreme racist
atmosphere that is law enforcement culture. I add here I do not paint
all police employees as being racist; instead I will let the glaring
facts speak for themselves. My concern is not only people of color
but anyone who takes up activism for the benefit of all peoples.
During the Ferguson protests I was
disgusted to see all the military tanks, armored vehicles and police
not only dressed for possible riots but in full battle gear and gas
masks to confront unarmed American citizens carrying signs and
chanting against yet another murder by police. I was so mad when I
saw the brutal militaristic show of force but I was worried too. What
if the police began shooting people? Fifty years ago the Voting
Rights Act was signed and now this after so many gave their lives for
freedom and equality? I, for one, will not let them have died in vain
for their efforts even if it’s only by writing.
Some years ago when I still lived in
the Big City I got a call from my mother. The first thing she said
was, “What did you do?” I said whattaya mean what did I do? She
said, “Well there are a couple of white women in front of my house
with some police who are asking for you. So what did you do?” My
mouth fell open and I thought about the previous night. I had gone
out to the club and came home and that was it. I said so to my mom
and she said well we’re on our way up north.
Now, I didn’t earn the name ‘Wild’
for no reason but I was miffed that anyone including my mother would
just assume that I had done something awful to warrant the police to
look for me. IKR? So much for motherly love and understanding ennit?
I went to lie down for a nap when I heard violent buzzing of my door
speaker then loud rapping on my door. Jeez. I got out of bed, crept
what I thought was silently toward the door and listened. I heard a
man say, “She’s right behind the door” to someone else. I have
four silver bracelets that I always wear so I think their jingling
was what tipped him off. I said, “Who’s there?” “Police!”
came the reply, “we just want to talk to you.” Like the most
naïve of simpletons I opened the door knowing that whatever it was
about I am innocent. Then … (cue ominous music).
There were two of Minneapolis’
finest in the hallway. The white cop asked me if anyone was home with
me. Puzzled, I said no and in that instant he grabbed my wrists and
pulled me out of my apartment. Grinning like a fiend he cuffed me up
and hauled me to his squad car parked right outside. Once inside I
asked “why am I being arrested?” I protested I had done nothing
wrong … and on and on becoming more anxious and terrified by the
second. This could NOT be happening, not to me! Then the nightmare
continued downtown under the clock.
I was booked, had to strip in front of
a female officer and was fingerprinted and I was bawling profusely
all the while.
Sorry I have to wrap this up for now
but I promise I’ll deliver the conclusion in May’s issue. My bad.
Or am I?