Walking While Black
. . . .He had a dream. A late middle-aged white woman was walking down the street and a black teenager, wearing a hoodie, with it pulled up over his head, is walking toward her coming the opposite way. This woman would never have called herself a racist. Even so, the first thought shooting through her brain, is fear. She couldn’t help herself. She was raised to be afraid of black people. She’s always been scared of them They are more apt to hurt you than white people, and she’s afraid of what he might do to her.
“Maybe he’s going to rob me.” she thought. “Maybe he’ll try to grab my purse and run.”
Throughout her life, the television and movies, have shown her that black people aren’t as intelligent as white people. They’re lazy. They don’t want to get an education or a job so they deal drugs and do other crimes. You can’t be too careful. It’s a fact. They try to live off the government. She heard it on FOX News, too, and she knew they wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. They can’t help it. It’s they way they were raised. She could be the next victim.
Rapidly, she tried to think what to do. Should she cross the street and just make it look casual, like she was meaning to cross the street, anyway? Her mind jumps from one possibility to another, searching for the right thing to do. She has a little gun in her purse she bought a couple months ago. She didn’t tell anyone about it yet. It wasn’t anyone’s business to know. She bought it because you never know if you need to protect yourself. You have to be prepared. It was just common sense in this day and age. It was the law and it was okay to carry one. A couple weeks ago she went to a gun range to learn how to shoot, just in case. She never thought it probably wouldn’t be much help unless the person she wanted to shoot agreed to stand still long enough to aim. She’d probably shoot off her own foot. But she isn’t thinking any of that. She’s just frightened.
She wouldn’t be able to fight off an attacker on her own. She heard stories about people who got attacked just walking down the street minding their own business. You don’t know who might be carrying a gun. Everyone is so scared everyone else has a gun. That’s why she bought one. A lady has the right to protect yourself, you know. All those crazy people carrying guns, not realizing she was one of these crazy people, too. She casually slipped her hand into her purse, just in case.
He’s about ten seconds away now. Her heart starts to beat a little faster. What to do? What to do? There’s a door to the left. Good. She could pretend she’s going there. She turned toward it, making it look like it was her destination. She pretended she was searching for her keys, but her hand is really around the gun, using her finger to slip the safety off. She was ready to pull her hand out if he started to step in her direction. God, what if he wanted to rape her!
She didn’t look at him again. She was trying to look casual, pretending everything was okay. She tried to steal a look at him through the side of her eye. She didn’t want him thinking she was looking at him, just in case he sees her doing it. She wants to make him believe she isn’t a scared racist, but that is exactly what she is, whether she want to believe it or not.
When she reached for the door, this scary looking black teenager just continues to walk on by without even looking at her. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone to search through his Itunes so he could play some music. Reaching further into his pocket, he felt for his headphones. He was in the mood for a little Bob Marley, singing about people coming together in the world and passing the love around.
Later in the day, that woman would be calling her friends and telling them about the close call she had with this black man she thinks wanted to hurt her. But she told them she was ready. She was the center of attention. Now she tells her friends about the gun and how she had her finger of the trigger and was about to pull it out when something frightened him away.
“Oh!” they said. You were so lucky you got away. You must have been so scared.”
“Did you call the police?” one woman asked. “No. Since he got away, I didn’t want the people in the neighborhood to have the cops arrive. I didn’t want to have to stay and tell them my story. They would have kept me there, and I had other things to do.” she added.
“I bet you could have gotten on TV, though. Then everyone could have seen you.”
“I never thought of that.” You always think of things like that when it was too late. “Oh well. I’m just glad I got away.” The conversation ended.
Let’s go back for a minute to the “criminal” this woman was so glad she had the insight and courage to get away from. Why was he walking down the street? He was walking to his gramma’s house. He was a good kid and always came when she called. They’d been close every since he was little. He was the only grandkid that lived near her and he always went over when she needed his help. He did good in school, too. He wanted to be an architect and was going to start college in the Fall. He was a bright spot in her life.
She called him because she needed some help getting boxes down from a shelf in the garage. He told her she wasn’t to climb her little ladder anymore, and to call him if she ever needed any help. She’s eighty-two and he worried about her. She already fell one time and he was worried if she fell again she might not be getting up. Next time she might not be able to take care of herself. There was no one else around to help her but him. He asked her she needed anything from the store and made a list of a few things that would be easy to carry while walking. There was a small grocery store about half way there. He could stop and get them on his way.
He grabbed his sweatshirt, put his phone in the pocket, and started to walk to her house. He could have driven, but it was a beautiful day for a walk. He wasn’t even paying attention to the lady as he passed her. He reached into his pocket to get his phone out and started searching for some music he wanted to listen to.
But someone else was watching this scene. There was a lady across the street who was peering through her lace curtains. She thought this kid looked suspicious. What was he up to? It sure looked like he might be pulling a weapon of some sort out of his pocket. She didn’t have her faraway glasses on but that black thing sure did look like a gun. Maybe he was going to try robbing that lady. She called 911.
“911, is this an emergency? If not, please call the regular number for the station.” the woman said on the other end of the line.
“Yes. It’s an emergency,” she said breathlessly. There’s this teenager outside and it looks like he has a gun. It looked like he was going to rob this lady but she got away from him.”
“You saw this gun ma’am?” the operator asked.
“Yes. With my own eyes.” She didn’t tell her she didn’t have her faraway glasses on.
“Let me have your location ma’am,” the 911 operator said, “and tell me what direction he’s heading. I’ll send a police car right away.” She gave the operator the address and cross street.
“Thank God. Hurry. I just saw him heading toward this convenience store down the block. An old man works there. What if he tries to rob him?”
“Stay inside your house. They’ll be there in a few minutes.” She hung up.
Two minutes later two cop cars came speeding down the street. They pull up in front of the convenience store, pull out their guns and walk slowly toward the store. When one of the officers went inside the store, and the other stayed outsid,e just in case this kid wasn’t working alone. The owner of the store saw them and had a surprised look on his face.
There was a teenage black boy with his hand out toward the old man behind the counter. It appeared there was something in his left hand. With his right hand he pulled something black out of his pocket.
The cop stood in the doorway and yelled “Freeze, and drop the gun!” The boy was startled. Was he talking to him? He didn’t have a gun. He turned around, with his black cell phone still in his hand. The cop shot him 3 times in the gut. The money for the groceries was on the counter.
“Shit”, the cop said. We’re going to have to make this look legit he said quietly as he walked over to the other cop. “We have to make it look like he was committing a crime. It looked like he was pulling out a gun from his waist and I was afraid for my life . . . .”