The first time I was racially profiled, I was fourteen years old, walking to school around 7:00 a.m., wearing a backpack full of books.
Running late for my morning weight-lifting session before school started, I sped-walked the three miles to get there. I never took the same route. There were so many side streets, that I could zig zag in many different combinations until I reached my destination.
I walked past the donut shop owned by a nice Vietnamese family. I walked past ladies not much older than me, selling themselves for sexual pleasures. I walked past bus stops, graffiti, and the buzz of the world, waking up under the Californian sun.
Hungry to not sit the bench in my tenth grade football season, competing against a talented group of running backs, needing every edge I could get within my small frame, I listened to a mix of gangster rap music, which always got me in the right frame of mind to attack the iron.
With my thumbs clenched between my chest and my backpack straps, I walked with my head down, drowning in my own thoughts. A police car, occupied by two officers, cruised along side of me. “Stop walking,” the one in the passenger side says.
I stopped walking and took my headphones off. The cruiser stopped with me, the tire resting against the curb.
“Where are you going?” the officer questions, looking at me suspiciously.
“To school,” I said, looking over my shoulder at my backpack and then back at them.
“What’s in that backpack?” the middle aged, Caucasian man demanded.
“Books.” I said perturbed at his question, beginning to wonder why he was stopping me.
He looks at me not saying anything.
“Can I go? I am running late for class.”
Not saying a word, he pulls away from the curb and disappears around the corner.
I was irritated. It seemed he had no good reason to stop and question me. I didn’t think anything of it. Years later, after several moments of sitting on sidewalks while red and blue lights danced around me, we began to notice a trend.
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