Yesterday I was sick to my stomach. I wasn’t sure if it was pent-up energy around my book launch or my broken heart over the death of another black man, here in Georgia. The death of Ahmaud Arbery left me stunned; George Floyd left me traumatized, but Rashard Brooks felt too familiar. I was triggered in a different way. I watched a long video showing his conversation with one of the officers on the last day of his life. He reminded me of myself – friendly, chatty, respectful. He was bending over backwards to be accommodating and let the officers know he wasn’t going to be a problem. Then, without warning, the same officer who’d been chatting with him for at least twenty minutes slid Rashard’s hand behind his back and started handcuffing him. He was NOT told he was under arrest to mentally prepare himself. It was if they thought they could slide handcuffs on him, and he would be too drunk to notice. I think anyone would resist someone suddenly slipping handcuffs on them, particularly if they were impaired by alcohol. What happened to being told the charges against you? What happened to being read your rights?
It reminded me of my car accident back in 2018. After waiting on the highway for an hour for police, the officer that arrived interviewed the driver of the 18-wheeler that hit the back of my car first. Of course, the driver was wearing a confederate flag cap – classic southern fashion. I showed the officer where the truck hit the back of my car. He said, “I don’t know what happened. I wasn’t here.” I had a brush with death, and I was met was sarcasm. I know you weren’t here. I kept my cool because I know as a black woman, the last thing I want is to argue with a white cop. They have the power to do anything they want with my life. They can write me a ticket for anything they dream up, and plant anything they feel like in my vehicle. I’m also grown. Who knows how my police encounters would go if I were only twenty-seven, like Rashard was?
The video reminded me of the look on that cop’s face after my accident. It reminded me of the look my racist boss used to give me. It triggered me. I know that look. It says, “I don’t see you as a person.” It’s the way we might look at a piece of furniture or a copy machine that we’ve had for ten years.
It’s the way we look at something we’re not even considering. It shouldn’t be the way we look at other human beings.
Rashard Brooks deferred to the officer as well. He agreed to a breathalyzer after saying more than once he didn’t know what it was. He told the officer twice that he’d been drinking margaritas celebrating his daughter’s birthday. He said he could walk to his sister’s house from where he was. He didn’t have to say a word, but he was trying to be friendly and forthcoming.
His kindness was met with venom.
He got the look that didn’t see him at all.
I remember telling a friend many years ago that I don’t have any enemies. She told me, I do, I just don’t know who they are.
Some people will hate your kindness, your beauty and your sweetness. Don’t let them turn you into someone you don’t want to be. Continue to be amazing and let them be jealous, even if it means your life.
Rashard Brooks died like a man with humanity. He will be remembered for that. The people who killed him will only be remembered for their ignorance and hatred.
If police officers cannot show humanity to the community they are paid to protect, they should look for work elsewhere. I’ve seen what community policing looks like, and this was not it. It was an abomination. Anyone who cannot see that needs to look in the mirror and make sure you don’t have “the look” too.
I wish you Freedom, Alignment and Effortless Abundance!
P.S. The photo is one of my favorite quotes from Mother Theresa. We can’t live our lives defined by how others “see” us. If you haven’t seen When They See Us on Netflix, open your eyes and take a look.