Not too long ago I was sitting at a picnic table outside of my daughter’s gymnastic practice in suburban Maryland. As I sat there with my headphones on and hoodie up, I began to wonder, am I being smart? I mean let’s be honest; I’m a black man sitting outside with my hoodie up minding my business, but to a lot of people this is seen as a threat or suspect.
I know this not from all of the recent police shootings that have received media attention, but rather my own experiences. I understand that police harassment and brutality have been going on long before iPhones have been able to capture the truth. I myself have had over 20 non-traffic related encounters with law enforcement that escalated to unnecessary levels. I’m honest enough to admit about a 1/3 of the time I probably had a little too much mouth for the police officers. But the other 2/3’s amounted to frisks, guns being pulled and just overall harassment – but no arrest. The most unfortunate part of all this is that I can’t simply sit at a picnic bench and feel safe while waiting for my daughter to finish gymnastics.