I remember at five years old being scared of two men, who wore black uniforms with handcuffs and guns strapped to their waste. It wasn’t until they entered my school and gave a presentation on safety, that I became aware of the importance of their duties as police officers. They spoke to our class about how their job was to protect us from criminals. Growing up my mother taught me to dial “911” for an emergency, just as I was taught the alphabet. Any time I felt in danger my first thought was to call the police.
At five I didn’t imagine that my college years would be spent protesting for the injustices of police brutality. As I watched many movies of the Civil Rights Movement, I would have never thought that the same angry faces depicted in the movies would be seen on rioters and protestors of today. Racism has and still is prevalent in America, but it is disheartening to think that our ancestors fought for equal rights that remain an issue. In 2015 I cannot approach an officer without worrying about my efforts to receive protection becoming a negative situation. It is a shame to feel unsafe around those, whose job is to protect my life.
Watching the news has become frightening as headlines read, “Trayvon Martin Shooting”, “I Can’t Breathe: Eric Garner Put into Chokehold By NYPD Officer”, “Baltimore Riots”, and unfortunately the incidents continue to increase monthly. But recently headlined was, “Obama Signs the ‘Blue Alert’ Police Protection Bill”. The Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015 was created as a result of the murder of two officers who were killed by rioters protesting. The Act enables law enforcement to be alerted whenever an officer is being threatened. I do not condone violence of any kind, but it is interesting how two policemen can be killed and an Act of protection is immediately enforced, while many black boys and girls have been shot and still have yet to receive justice of a fair trial for their murders.
It is unquestionable that police officers are placed in society for protecting citizens. But there is no just reason for any unarmed person screaming, “don’t shoot” to be brutality shot in the streets, just as there is no reason for innocent officers to be attacked. It is discouraging to live in an age where I feel that I not only have to defend myself from danger, but also the law enforcement.
Due to many of the discouraging events of inequality I have chosen to support the campaign Solidarity Summer America to DC. This campaign seeks to change the injustices in America by uniting all youth organizations and advocates to come together this summer in Washington, D.C. While in Washington, Solidarity Summer will demand the enforcement of laws that provide everyone with equal rights to education, health, the workforce, and also reduce the efforts of police brutality and minority imprisonment.
If the injustices in America continue, it forces me to question as a black woman, will my future children be safe? If there really is a crime will I teach my children to dial “911” or will I have to think twice about the safety of my child in the hands of the law? Today, I still contemplate about why at five years old my first awareness was to be scared of the police, rather than feel protected?
As my future children prepare for their first years of school I will have to think of what is best for them, so that they do not grow up thinking they are being attacked, but rather that they are protected. I will make sure to teach my children the importance of their life, even when they may be pulled over just for driving a nice car, or because the cops assume they are a danger to society. When my children see those officers in their uniforms, they will know not to be discouraged, but rather know that their life is valued.