Another sunrise and I wake, blessed to see it by the grace of God. I take my shower, put on my suit, and prepare to head out yet again into a world of uncertainty. I kiss my wife goodbye, pull her close, and whisper in her ear I’m the luckiest man alive to have been blessed with a wife as smart and beautiful as you. She laughs and replies, and don’t you ever forget it. Just then, my two children appear out of nowhere, shouting, daddy, daddy, we love you as they wrap my legs in two mini bear hugs. I kiss each of them and tell them daddy loves you too and head out the door; the sun is shining, there’s not a cloud in the sky, and as I drove, I couldn’t help but smile, thinking of all the wonderful blessings God has bestowed on me. My health, education, job, home, friends, and, most of all, my beautiful family. By all accounts, it was a perfect day.
Then the sound of the siren pierced the peaceful morning silence, and the red lights flashed in my mirror, and though I knew I had done nothing wrong, my hands started to tremble. I did like my mother had told me since I was old enough to understand. I turned off the radio, rolled down the window, put my license on the dashboard and my hands on the steering wheel.
The officer walked over to my car, his hand by his side on his gun, and though I knew I had done nothing wrong, I couldn’t escape the frightful thought that maybe just maybe today was my turn to be George Floyd, Eric Garner, or Jacob Blake.
Sir, would you mind stepping out of the vehicle.
Why officer, what did I do?
He looked directly at me, but I could tell he didn’t see me. Not for who I am anyway. He didn’t see a hardworking, educated, family man. A man who had never so much as gotten a ticket for jaywalking, all he saw was the color of my skin.
Sir, I’m not going to ask you again. Please step out of the vehicle.
I love you, daddy. All I could think of was my two beautiful children, and though I knew I had done nothing wrong, I very slowly removed my hand from the steering wheel to open the door.
Once I had exited the vehicle, the officer instructed me to move toward the car’s front and place my hands on the hood.
And you better not forget it. All I could think was my wife’s beautiful smile, and though I knew I had done nothing wrong, I did as he asked.
Do you mind if we search your car?
Why? I asked.
You fit the description of a man who just robbed a convenience store.
I thought that most people who rob convenience stores don’t do so with $500 suits on, but before I could protest, my mother’s voice was in my head. Son, please don’t give them even the slightest reason to shoot you. I’m too old to have to bury you, and though I knew I had done nothing wrong, I said not a problem, sir.
After a quick search, the officer matter of factly said, sorry for the trouble, you’re not who we are looking for, and without so much as another word, turned and walked back to his car. I stood there for a minute, still shaking, and attempted to regain my composure, and though I knew I had done nothing wrong, I also knew it didn’t matter because I am a black man living in America.