I am deeply frightened. I go into a state of panic, literally afraid for my life. Why? Because of the reality of the world I live in. I am an African American female, living in a society that systemically and institutionally reinforces the notion that my life doesn't matter. Lately, especially in light of the recent police shootings, I tense up when passing police officers. I look at them to make sure they're not looking at me and when they are, I try to look as "normal" as possible. I often look out my rearview mirror as I pass a police car, to make sure they're not u-turning and following me or turning their lights on. A couple days ago, I actually got stopped by a state trooper while driving. He was calm and pleasant enough about the situation but then again, there were three other people in the car with me. But then, on my way back, taking the same route I had gotten stopped on, I was literally ready to cry. This time I was alone. I felt stress in my fingertips and my heart started beating so fast when I thought I saw a police car behind me. I had already thought of how to get to my recorder on my phone quickly in the event that I was stopped again earlier. At that time, I was on the phone through the bluetooth in my car and I ready to tell her to record had I been stopped. I couldn't wait to get out of the suburban neighborhod, where I feared I would be stopped, harassed, beaten, arrested, and/or sexually assaulted.
Some may read this and go, "your fears are invalid", but even as I type, another black boy is being shot to death. Some may read this and go, "how likely is that to really happen though?", but even as I type, a police officer has been arrested for sexually assaulting eight African American women, with the possibility that there's more not known about. Still others may read this and go, "racism doesn't exist anymore. We're colorblind. Those people deserved it; they're criminals", but even as I type, the numbers of unarmed, innocent black and brown people being killed keep going up. My fears are NOT invalid. I am NOT exaggerating. I have logical reasons to be afraid of walking to my apartment at night which happens to be in an increasingly white neighborhood. I have logical reasons to be afraid that I'll get a call that my boyfriend has been brutalized or worse by the police. I have logical reasons to be afraid that my brothers may call me collect from jail. I have logical reasons that someone I know will be dead by the years end. So please don't tell me I shouldn't feel the way I do, especially if you don't share similar fears.
The only thing keeping me from curling into a ball and staying in my apartment, as well as telling everyone I know and love to do the same, is God. His Grace and Mercy are keeping me and my loved ones protected and He is all I can put my trust in because justice? It doesn't quite work too well for my kind. Pray for this world y'all; it's a crazy crazy place.