If you think racism doesn’t exist

So many times I’ve seen people say racism is not an issue anymore. So many times I’ve been told I’m living in the past. So many times I’ve been blown off about it because “its 2017 that’s over with.” I’m a young mixed kid who was raised on the south side of Oklahoma City….not a pretty place. My dad died when I was young in a gang related incident, and I have five brothers and sisters with all different dads. I guess you could say I come from a rough family. My grandma took my little brother and I when I was 12. I’m a  junior at a rural public school where everyone on my mom’s side of the family has graduated from. I’m focusing on being a physical therapist after high school and furthering my education in sports medicine.  I’ve been labeled as many things just because of how I grew up. If you think racism doesn’t haunt this world today, then you have yet to open your eyes to one of America’s underlying issues. I’ve talked to people, even family, who have told me racism is no longer an issue, but they haven’t encountered it first hand like I have.

Growing up my grandma didn’t really talk to me much about race. It was never something we really addressed. But I feel like some of the reasoning behind that is because she is white. If I was white like her, would I even know about the troubles that black people face just because of their skin? I feel as if you can never fully grasp the situation of racism unless you have experienced it. You feel almost as if you’re a victim of your own skin color. Racism is not something you can hide from, it occurs every day in the places you should feel the safest, one of those being the school system.

I go to a small school. There’s about three black kids in this whole school, so racism has always been a problem here for me. I was in class freshman year when some of my friends and I were just talking about all sorts of stuff like friends do. In that conversation I said “I’m a free man,” but right when I said it, the class was quiet so the teacher heard it. He said “You better thank Abe Lincoln.“ My blood got hot quickly after he said that. It replayed in my head, and each time it made me even more mad, but also helpless because I can’t even tell another teacher because no matter what, here the teacher is never wrong. Its always been an issue here, like I said, but from a teacher… it was crazy. But there’s nothing you can do about it because even if I went to tell somebody nothing would happen. It never does. It really hits you that you can’t hide from racism. Stuff like this can happen anywhere — even with the people that are supposed to protect you.

I was riding in the car with my friend one day.  We were on the way back from a Thunder game, and she switched lanes in a intersection and was pulled over. The cop came to the window and asked to see her licence and registration and then looked at me and asked to see my ID. I wasn’t even driving so it seemed really weird to me considering I’m the only black person in the car. So I told him “I wasn’t driving?” and he looked at me again with a serious stare and said, “I know.” He walked back to his car, ran our ID, and came back. He said to my friend he was just going to give her a warning. He hands her her ID back, looks at me, throws my ID to the floorboard in front of me, and walks back to his car. My mind went in circles trying to figure out what just happened  When the people you rely on for safety do this, who are you supposed to trust? This really hit me that even though they are the police I still can face racism.

So one day I was coming home from football practice to take my little brother to his friend’s house. I was on the highway almost home and I looked in my mirror to see flashing red and blue lights. I pulled over and got my license and stuff out. My heart was racing and I started to sweat. All I could think about was all the cop related brutality lately. When the highway patrol trooper arrived at my window, I looked over to see sunglasses and a bald head. He asked me to step out of my truck, and I asked why. He told me to get out again, so I got out and he asked me to put my hands on the hood. I placed my hands on the hood, and he started searching my truck.

I hope I don’t get shot, I thought. My chest tightened up almost making it laborious to catch my breath. I took a few deep breaths trying to calm myself.

I looked over to see him dumping everything in my backpack on the ground. My books. My cleats. And most importantly, the necklace my grandma gifted me for Christmas.

I was so confused on what was going on, I asked him why he was searching me. He didn’t say anything back. He finished his search, and ordered me to get back in my truck. I climbed back into the driver’s seat, asked what was going on, and he told me I was speeding and he was going to ticket me for speeding. It was weird because he acted like he didn’t just make me get out and search my truck. I ended up getting a $211 ticket for going three over. I was so angry because of my experiences riding with my grandma and getting pulled over for going 20 over and leaving with just a warning. Those experiences where “normal.” She handed the officer her licence and insurance, the officer ran it, came back and said he will just be giving her a warning. We left.

Why the hell does a young black man get searched and ticket, but his very own white grandma gets a warning?

If you think racism does not exist today, this should open your eyes to not only what I go through, but what thousands of people face everyday. It can change so much just in your everyday routine because it’s something that weighs upon your mind. It is one of the most overlooked problems in the U.S. I hope this has opened your eyes to what it’s like to be racially preyed on. Its sad to see such hate on anyone because of the color of his or her skin color.