With all that is going on with police brutality in our nation today, I thought that it would be somewhat therapeutic to share my experiences with law enforcement. I could share many incidents with you but I will only share those that have impacted me most and helped shape my mindset about being a Black male in America.
At the young age of 16, I remember walking to a friend's house and not knowing exactly which house I was walking up to. I walked up to several houses as I looked for the right one. Officer Not-So-Friendly rides up and instructs me to get into the back seat of his squad car. I obliged and asked him, "Why?" He responded to me by saying, "Well, in this neighborhood, you stick out like a sore thumb … if you know what I mean." Being a very mature teenager, I knew exactly what he meant.
There was another incident where I tried to enter into my own home and another not-so-friendly officers told me to get into the back of his squad car. Again, again I questioned, "Why sir?" He then proceeded to tell me that there had been a robbery at a local school and that I fit the description.
Now I was always a nerd and really enjoyed learning, but I have never enjoyed it enough to break into a school. Well, the officer took me to the school and asked the janitor, who made the 911 call, if I was the culprit. The janitor stated that I was not the robber. Then officer then spent the next 15 minutes asking the janitor over and over if he was sure that I was not the suspect. The janitor then got frustrated, telling Officer Not-So-Friendly, "I told you he was wearing all Black. This kid is wearing Black, red, green and yellow!" ( It was the '90s. ) The officer then offered me a ride back home and I respectfully declined. I just really wanted to get away from him.
Another incident that happened to me really impacted me with law enforcement. I was walking through a sketchy neighborhood to meet up with my boyfriend at the time when two officers pulled up and jumped out of their squad car. The white officer drew his gun, put the gun to my head and said, "Tell me where they hide the money!" I was totally perplexed with zero inclination what he is talking about and I told him so. He then replied, "You are a dumb nigger!" His partner, who was Black, laughed. Sigh!
Being Black and gay has given police additional vitriol to spew in my direction. On one such occasion, my then-boyfriend and I were walking and ran into a group of guys who obviously were against homosexuality. They began to shout insulting anti-gay remarks and began to chase us. I was fortunate to get away without any harm; however, my boyfriend was not as lucky. He was hit in the head with a bottle before he escaped. When the police showed up, my boyfriendcovered in blood and seeking help from those who are supposed to "serve and protect"approached the squad car. The officer yelled at him, "Get away from my car, you faggot-ass nigger," and he drove off into the night.
These run-ins, as well as many more, speak volumes on their own and have shaped how I view law enforcement. My disdain for them is authentic and legitimate, nurtured through experiences. So, when the headlines show police officers shooting Black men for complying during traffic stops, selling CDs, running away, playing with a toy gun or raising their hands, I am constantly reminded how easily that could have been me.
The killing of police officers in Dallas was a horrific tragedy. Two wrongs don't make a right and the loss of an innocent life could never be justified. However, it has been extremely difficult for me to feel sympathy. It is a terrible thing to admit. It is beyond my control. Being numb to fallen officers is just something that comes naturally to me because I have NEVER had one treat me with kindness in the 45 years that I have been on earth.
Who are we kidding? All lives do not matter in America. My life is not valued as much as my white friends, regardless of my success. In the eyes of some, I will always be considered subhuman and, therefore, dispensable. That's a hard pill to swallow and one that I cannot refuse to take.
Isaac King is a Chicago-based wardrobe stylist ( www.isaackingstyles.com ) and co-host of "The Sip" radio show on Urban Broadcast Media.