There are no good options. So I’m just sitting in my front yard on a Thursday trying to hang on to hope but feeling like it’s racist deja vu all over again.
Twenty-eight years ago, I was in the 4th grade when Los Angeles was beset by upheaval over the injustice of the Rodney King trial. The fires and looting from protestors reached the outer edges of my elementary school and school officials told us to run home. I was afraid the cops would see us running and shoot us, but running was our only option. I’ll never forget that fear as we ran.
Nineteen years ago, I was in 12th grade when an undercover police officer pulled me over and gave me a swift beating because I was wearing a red bandana tied around my head like I’d seen Tupac Shakur do. He said he was doing it to save my life because if “they saw you like that they’d smoke you up.” I didn’t ask who “they” were. I was just glad I didn’t get a ticket.
Imagine that. I was happy I didn’t have to pay for a racist beat down.
Ten years ago, I was a young journalist in D.C. during President Barack Obama’s first term. I used to walk through the Newseum’s Pulitzer Prize section where they had a collection of prize-winning photos of racist lynchings. One day, I asked my photographer friend what she would have done if she was a journalist during a scene like that. She said she would have probably taken the photo because it has more power to prevent many more lynchings than to stop the one lynching.
I guess that made sense at the time. But I remember her answer just made me feel helpless to change the past. I guess I thought I’d somehow change the future.
But this present … man.
So I’m just sitting here in Southeast Los Angeles on a Thursday thinking about the black kid who just danced and the brown kid who just graduated middle school.