Banter on Tulips and a Tribe Called Quest, Jay-Z and John Coltrane, Outkast and Othello.


Jive Turkeys in Blue Badges

"Why am I wearing handcuffs?" - D'Angelo, "S---, D---, M--------"

My Thanksgiving weekend was filled with new friends and old… mac and cheese…greens and, of course, poultry. And, a healthy dose of… being harassed by the man, lest I forget my melanin quotient. Let me explain. I’m from a suburb where black folks are the majority. This is evident in the preponderance of soul food restaurants, the sightings of young cornrowed lads with white-on-white Urrr Force Ones and white tees, and by the stacks of Glory greens on grocery markdown right before the T-day feast. So, being from such a place, one would expect that the police would somehow be acculturated to the more melanin endowed among us. Not exactly.

My brother and I were sitting outside the local library a few nights ago making smart use of the free wireless access from the comfort of his rental car, a candy apple red Mazda 6. What nefarious pursuits where we engaging in? Um… checking our e-mail. Lol. Suddenly, out of nowhere comes the 5-0. Two cops approach the car from each side. Each bares a flashlight and shines it in our faces. I put the window down and purposefully overenunciate, explaining to the officer on my side of the car that we are using the "In-ter-net." (My mind thoughts continued —"Not plotting to blow up the building. Not soliciting the crack man. Not even evading Mr. IRS".) The cop tells me to talk to the other one, who happens to be of the Caucasian persuasion (I guess he is the boss man.) So, I lean over the driver’s seat, from my passenger’s side and speak to the other officer. "Hi there. We’re just using the Internet." The officer asks me, "Are you students here?" (He gestures to the community college right next to the library.) I explain, "We are using the library’s Internet." (And since when do you have to be enrolled at a community college to use free local Internet?) My younger brother, the most kind, non-threatening black man one could encounter, who just so happens to be an oak solid 6’4", panders to the cops, perhaps in a lesson taught by my dad. "We are [Ourtown] residents, sir." The cop, after looking in the car, changes his focus and explains that the reason we were approached is that we are sitting in a handicapped spot.

Um, right… That spot, as well as all of the other spots in the lot were unoccupied. Why? Cause the freaking library was closed!!! Our lights and engine were on, indicating that we were not parked there permanently, but standing. I start to explain this to the cop, in perhaps not the nicest of tones (by now my inner Aquanetta, fresh off of yet another law school application and armed with a basic knowledge of Constitutional rights, is nearing the surface). My brother hushes me up. "[Mahogany,] Let’s just move to another space. It’s not worth all of this." When the bossman cop agrees to his promise to pull away, my brother sighs and says to me, "Listen, I don’t mess with cops." I marinate on that for a second. It’s probably the best survival strategy for a black man. The status quo is unfortunate, but I guess his methodology is crucial to the endgame of staying alive as long as possible. And, granted we were not being beat down like Rodney King. They did not ask for our working papers like in apartheid South Africa. And, granted, they did not make us get out, spread our arms and legs and sing like on the Five Heartbeats. Lol. But, call me stupid, call me rash, call me uppity. I can take it. But, I’ll be Boo Boo the daggone Fool, if I’m going to let some cop unduly harass me without cause.The day I see people in less diverse communities being questioned while sitting in front of a library with a laptop inside their own, not-stolen car is the day that I will shuffle along and display my teeth, while singing a rousing rendition of "Ole Man Rivah." And, I’ll cap that mess off with a spirited tap dance complete with "jazz hands." But, until then…

(In other news -- For everyone wishing to know how the "In this Corner..." music battle turned out, I'm waiting for more votes. I promise to post the results soon.)


At November 30, 2005 2:11 AM , Blogger spchrist said...

I always knew you had a record...kidding of course...man you were cool under pressure...i always say something stupid and get myself a ticket.

At November 30, 2005 7:11 PM , Blogger Gunner Kaufman said...

When I started to hit clubs fresh as a junior in high school, my mans mother called us in the house from our car. When I walked in the house, she proceeded to hand me and the other two cats I was with a book the size of a matchbook. SHe had us sit down and read it. It was a book to be kept in your sock, and it had space for a contact number, doctor, blood type, and other things of that nature. When we were finished she told us to never go out with out it. I cant lie, we all kinda chuckled, till she told us..she wasnt worried about us and some other kids, as she expected us to straight whoops some ass, but she and the rest of mothers worried bout COPS.

Ill never forget that talk.

At November 30, 2005 7:12 PM , Blogger Gunner Kaufman said...

And of yeah, as for your brother..I know whats its like to be an unassuming black man at 6'4" and nicely over two hundered lbs. everyone else wants to assume.

At December 02, 2005 1:23 PM , Blogger Ja said...

Damn Soror, and I thought profiling was illegal. :-) When will the madness stop? Chances are your "boy" in blue didn't have a clue. Chances are he has never, ever ever ever been on the Internet. Ya think?



At December 23, 2005 5:42 PM , Blogger Mahogany Elle said...

SpChrist, Gunner, and Soror Ja, Thanks for your comments. It's a shame that things still have to be this way, but alas, they are.


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