Are You Ready to Die Today?

People of color (POC) are dying almost every day in roadside public executions by an organization paid by public taxes to “protect and serve.” And every case is judged by faceless trolls, aka–some fat ass on a cracked leather couch in their parents’ basement because their lives are so miserable they need to pass that misery on to someone they have no fear of ever interacting with. How we each see the cases depends on our own lens of experience, so if you’ve never been a POC, try to open your mind and listen to understand, not to respond.

What all y’all need to do is to think this chit out better by using all the available information using your senses, if you haven’t already. Let’s look at a scenario. Keep in mind that a “typical scenario” for white people (#wp) is NOT the same as for POC so let’s focus on the latter.

Typical scenario for POC:

You are stopped by three cops in two different cop cars, and looking at different recent cases, it could be for a broken taillight, or you didn’t come to a full stop at a stop sign, the color of your car annoyed them, it’s a week day, it’s cloudy, it’s sunny, or the ol’ reliable “you fit the description of … (insert anyfrickinthing here)”.

All three jump out of their cars and approach your car menacingly, two with weapons drawn, one with hand on gun. All are staring at you intensely, causing you even more terror.

You KNOW you’re a nice, gentle, law abiding person (except when you smoked pot at a house party last year, or got drunk on a public beach and threw up in the fire pit) and you can’t believe they’re treating you like some kind of… thug. You’re alternating between smiling and sweating and fighting nervousness.

And somewhere deeper you have a less fully formed thought of whether or not you will be the story of the hour on the evening news including non-relevant information about a fight 20 years before where you broke the nose of a friend you fought with (… who you stopped from beating up a homeless man… will not be included, it’ll spoil the image they’re trying to create).

As they move toward your car they’re all shouting commands at the top of their lungs, different commands from each to deliberately cause you confusion and keep you from thinking independent of what they’re saying.

One is demanding you get out of the car, another is yelling to put your hands on your head, the third is yelling to show him your ID, you hear “keep your hands where I can see them!” These commands are being rapidly repeated like they’re on a never ending vine, but sometimes you hear another command, “don’t you f^*€ing MOVE!”

Initially you are surprised at being stopped in the first place so you’re trying to process all this data input in some order that makes some kind of sense. The mere sight of those flashing lights has your heart pounding so hard you can hear it in your ears, your anxiety level rises, your nerves have your hands and legs shaking like feathers in the wind, your eyes are tearing up, and all noise is magnified by 10 because your senses are on F I R E!

At the same time the images around you are throwing you into a panic in this hyper vigilant state because you are a Black person and all three cops are white.

Your mind is racing like dragsters on a speedway with dozens of questions like, what did I do wrong, did I put my latest sticker on my car tags, do I have my car insurance papers, is my license current or in my wallet, did I miss a stop sign, did any of my friends leave a joint in my car, is something wrong with my car, did I cut somebody off, and most of all–am I going to die today?

You know you need to put your car in park, turn off the ignition, pull safely off the road, but you don’t know if that’s wise and your pounding heart is muffling your hearing, so some parts of you are frozen there.

At the same time as these questions are flying through your mind in lightning speed, those three voices are shouting at you, and you’re shaking all over so hard (from frustration? anger? loss of control?), but you’re trying to keep that under control. You also have images of all those videos you saw of Black people being stopped only to be executed. Safe at home you see time and again bodies lying in the filth of a public street while officers, ALL trained in first aid, offering none of their training if there is no immediate kill shot; they watch them lay there writhing in pain, staring at them as if they are some type of vermin they have never seen. Again, you think, am I going to die today?

A male in this situation also contends with the notion that his manhood, his very maleness, is being attacked. From birth, the men in our society have had that meaning of “man” drummed into him with the loose translation meaning “he who is not to be f*^*ed with.” The protector, the provider, the no-crying-allowed, chest-thumping man! What it means to be a man is to not show fear, so there’s also that internal fight against showing bravado, which, for POC, proves fatal somewhere in the 90th percentile. Fight, flight, or freeze.

Keep in mind that even states with open-carry laws will kill POC if they have a weapon AND are licensed. Being in one of those 24 states with some type of open carry laws are no different than seven (7) states where weapons are prohibited.

All this is a flurry of continuous activity with no time to pause as most TV watchers with remote controls will when they pass judgment on whatever action you take in that moment. Life’s happening in seconds, blinks of the eye, beats of the heart, real time.

So which is it? Who do you follow first? The one who told you not to move or the one who says put your hands on your head? The one who told you not to move or the other one who said show me your ID? Or do you put your car in park or keep your hands on the wheel? You HAVE to make a decision and you know in your heart the outcome is in the balance of that split second decision. To make no decision is a decision in itself and also answerable to a bullet for “resisting arrest.” The bigger your physical appearance the more deadly that decision may be.

You are already in a hypervigilant state because you’re…POC, so your body is fully alert, muddled–but alert.

For the cop who said put your hands on your head, his single focus has him attuned to you following what he said, which doesn’t mean reach for your ID. But the one who said get out of the car isn’t paying the slightest attention to the one who said, “don’t you f*^+*ing move.” Each command conflicts with the other in deciding the order you are to follow and each cop expects you to do EXACTLY what HE said, regardless of what the other two said. Any–ANY–move you make will directly contradict at least one of the officers. A decision you are forced to make and have zero control.

And STFU if at any time during this scenario the idea comes in your head that you have nothing to fear if you haven’t done anything wrong. JSTFU!!

Facing you are those three public servants, paid by YOUR tax dollars to “protect and serve,” but you know their motto is much more sinister than that. 

So think carefully. Transport your mind. You’re not on a couch second guessing a 60-second video clip on TV, you’re in real time with a life or death decision to make; 45 seconds have passed.

Are you going to die today?