What if it was me?


Photo credit: Rosemary Montalvo

Midnight gunshots and helicopter rotors with a hint of intense spot lights.

This is the recipe of my nights living in South Los Angeles. Living in this area you had two choices in life: option one, to be down with the hood and make a name for yourself or option two, play ball.

My mother had other plans, she wanted me to go to college and do something with my life; which lead to some of my mother’s most memorable quotes that she yelled from the living room window.

“Stay where I can see you.” And my personal favorite “Don’t you go past that mailbox or your ass is grass.”

Although I spent most of my days at practice or blowing rigorously into the bottom of Nintendo 64 cartridges I still found myself getting into it with bullies around school or having pointless stare downs with people if they didn’t recognize me and I would hear the million dollar question

“Where you from blood?”

All those moments just molded me into the person I am now.

After I moved from South Los Angeles to Gardena in 2008 I had to graduate with a whole new monster, racial profiling.

I’ve been racially profiled a lot during my life. I’ve been followed around in convenience stores, I’ve been pulled over because there were several minorities in the car. But the story that surprised me the most was when I was down the street from El Camino across the street from the Roadium.

It was an early Saturday morning and I had just arrived at the Dollar Tree on 147th Street and Crenshaw Boulevard. My friend Kelly had agreed to save me a job application, but when I got there she said they ran out. Luckily she lived close by and she had a printer so we went her house.

Once we arrived she told me “you’re going to have to wait outside because no boys can come in when my auntie isn’t home and I’m not trying get kicked out.” I said I was fine with that as long as I get the application so I don’t have to be broke anymore.

Some time passed and I began scrolling through Instagram on my phone, and giving some double taps out to my followers. Then, I noticed a person walk out of their house from a distance and glare at me hard, soon after he grabbed his phone out of his pocket and proceeded to call someone while he got in his car. He gave me one last look then he drove away.

I thought, “um, Ok.” Now Kelly finally came outside with two fresh papers in her hand. “Sorry for taking so long.” I told her it was fine and thanked her for printing it for me. Then I saw a police cruiser hit the corner.

The police cruiser continued to make a left towards and pulled up right in front of us. My first initial thought was “ Damn, here we go.” Both of the officers eagerly hopped out as several other cop cars arrived “Do you guys live here?”

I quickly replied “I don’t but she does.” The officer asked us if we had any proof that she did live there. But, she left her ID in the house and asked him if she could get it. The officer told her no and directed us to sit on the sidewalk.

The officer began to interrogate me asking a million and one questions, because apparently someone said I looked suspicious, like I was trying to rob a house. The officer asked me for my ID and asked to search my bag. To avoid further complications I complied.

As the officer walked away, one of the other many officers walked up to me with an attitude and asked “Why are you coming over here for a job application there’s no Dollar Tree around here.”

I politely informed him that I came over to her house because I did not own a printer to obtain the application, and there was in fact a Dollar tree up the street on Crenshaw Boulevard. The officers partner informed him that I was telling the truth and he didn’t say another word to me. Not soon after the police got in contact with Kelly’s aunt and they let us go and told us to have a good day.

The whole time I was thinking “All those cop cars just for me?” I’m just one guy but, because I’m an African American male I’m automatically up to no good. This isn’t right and something needs to be done about this.

Racial profiling is one of the biggest problems in our country and we need to do something about it; we need change. According to the Washington post 992 people have been shot and killed by the police this year as of May.

While doing this research I was surprised at the fact that the Washington post reported that of the 992 people, 46 percent were white males; while just 23 percent were black males. These numbers shows that this is a growing problem in our community not just for African Americans but for everyone.

What if one of the cops was trigger happy and shot me just for the fun of it because he “thought” I had a gun. Then this story would be a whole lot different and someone would have seen me laid out on the street on the 9 o’clock news. People shouldn’t have to live in constant fear of the police when they are supposed to protect and serve, not shoot first.