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I was once coming back home from seeing my girlfriend, with no money because I was a bike messenger, and I took a subway ride without paying. The police saw me and instead of giving me a ticket on the train, as they do for any other person, they took me to the police station. They were looking for some reason to exercise force that was not necessary whatsoever. I was scared for my life. They searched my bag looking for weapons or anything they could find to prove I should be arrested instead of just getting a simple ticket. It made me feel powerless, it made me want to cry and at the moment I just thought I guess I’m black enough and that’s how I should be treated.
As a black man, I have been taught to suppress my emotions because I would seem “girly”. I was taught to neglect my mental state because that would make me weak, and I was taught to ramp up my physical presence in order to protect myself and not die.
I believe we need to understand that everyone in this world is trying to do the same thing. We are all trying to thrive in life for ourselves and for our families. If we all come to the same understanding and we work to respect it, understanding the rest is just a conversation. We need to start having more conversations to move away from the past and to improve and be better.