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Take a Knee

3 min read

It is a cruel irony that before the start of the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin the state of Minnesota is one of many placing the knee of racism on the neck of black American voters. It is also not lost on me that Colin Kaepernick was denied his career for taking a knee to protest the killing of black men and women: and Derek Chauvin is now being defended for kneeling on the neck of 46-year-old George Floyd for 8 minutes and 46 seconds until he was dead. After the death of young Trayvon Martin, then-President Obama made a statement that Trayvon could have been his son or him. “When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said this could’ve been my son. Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” said Mr. Obama.  

I have a 46-year-old black son

The link between injustice and black people in America is indivisibly linked. I have two sons, one of which is the same age as the late Mr. Floyd. My oldest son is a military veteran, a musician, and a father. In society, he is just another black man, guilty of being black in public. I was once 46 and George Floyd could have been my son or me. In 1983 I had bought a brand new Nissan Sentra; it was black with white leather (ok it was vinyl) interior. I polished that car before and after I took it out on the road as if it were a diamond. At the time, my sister-in-law and her husband lived in a rough part of Washington, DC. I am the godfather to their sons, so I stopped occasionally to visit them after work. On my way home the disco ball whirling glow of red and blue lights flashed in my rearview mirror.

I was raised by a very conservative black family, not only had I never consumed a mind-altering illegal substance, but I had also never consumed a legal one. “ Keep your head down, and stay out of trouble”

I was annoyed that I had been pulled over, I was running down the checklist of what I could have done to be stopped, I signaled when I pulled away from the curb, my seatbelt was fastened, my lights were on and I was not speeding. A black cop walked up to my window, with his hand on his gun holster, and asked where I got the car. I looked to my right and could see his white partner with his gun drawn:    

           Officer: Why are you in this neighborhood?

           Me: Visiting my family.

           Officer: You have kids with a woman somewhere?

           Me: No! I have a wife and kids at my home; my sister-in-law and her husband live up the                       street.

           Officer: Do you have anything in the car?

           Me: Yes, some paperwork from my job.

           Officer: Do you mind if I look; or do you have a reason why not?

I was young and did not know the law, so I got out, and sat on the curb—handcuffed, while my car was searched, angry the police were defiling the new car smell.

Since my sons have been old enough to drive, I carry with me a fear that one day I will get a call that they were stopped and did not make it home alive. You see, it does not take a lot for a black man or woman to be killed by police or a racist, a fake twenty-dollar bill, jogging, sleeping in your bed, loud music, or walking home carrying a bag of candy. Former Officer Chauvin, rightfully, will be given the benefit of the doubt in his trial, unfortunately, he did not give Mr. Floyd the same human consideration.  

Continue to Vote for Change.

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