Me, MomSelf and I

Life's journey is full of twists and turns and sometimes we get lost. This is my journey to rediscover myself.

What If I Died That Night?

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When I was 16, I got my first speeding ticket about half a mile from my house. The police approached my car, asked for my license and asked me to step out of the car to place me in the police car. Maybe because I’m always running late, that was not the last time I got a speeding ticket, nor was it the last time I was placed in the police car as the ticket was written. I thought that’s just what happened. But when I told that story to any of my white friends, to which I had many, they said it was crazy. None of them had ever heard of someone being placed in the squad car as a ticket was being written. They also said as a female, it was crazy that I would get a ticket. I was told if I ever got pulled over again, I should do a number of things to avoid getting a ticket: cry, tell the officer I was on my period, be really apologetic, play dumb, beg. Each subsequent stop, I followed the advice of my friends. Surprisingly, none of it worked, for me.
Sensing a real disparity, with the police and more general situations, I became angry and frustrated. Especially when I watched the Rodney King beating on TV during the LA Riots in ’92. Those feelings are probably why I gravitated toward gangsta rap. My run – ins with the law were very minor in comparison to the experience of NWA, GETTO Boyz and Ice T, but I certainly understood the sentiment in Fuck Da Police!
See, growing up in a racially diverse middle class suburb like Cleveland Heights, I grew up thinking me and my white counterparts were virtually the same, save for our skin color. But the police taught me I was different and should be treated as such. As a threat to be contained.
Once when I was sitting in a police car as the white officer ran my license, and when I was old enough to know better, I ran my mouth. I said, “don’t you have anything better to do, like catch some rapists or murderers, than write me up for not making a complete stop before making a right turn? I guess this makes you feel like a real man to have a young woman handcuffed in your cruiser late at night huh?” I went on and on. And then he took me to jail.
I could have easily died that night. I could’ve been #SandraBland. She was me. At 26 years old, I had seen and experienced enough to justify my anger at the police. I was bold and educated and spoke up for myself. And had I died in jail that night waiting for my parents to bail me out I would never know the pain of a broken heart. I would never know the meaning of soulmate. I would never feel the indescribable bond with a first, second or third child. I would never have met some of the most wonderful people I get to call friends today. I would never understand my place in the world and in my body as a strong black woman. These things came after 26. And it sickens me that Sandra Bland was denied the opportunity to know these things.
The Plain Dealer’s headline back in July of 1999 could have read Darlene Norwood found dead in her jail cell from an ‘apparent suicide.’
I grew up thinking the Civil Rights Movement was so pivotal, so spectacular that most of the fighting for equal rights had been done. That it was smooth sailing for mine and future generations. It wasn’t until my 30s and now 40s that I understand there are all kinds of movements that have to happen before full maturity is reached. We’re in the midst of a growth spurt with the first African American President of the United States and the right for ALL people, regardless of sexual orientation, to marry. But growth doesn’t come without pain and it doesn’t come with out struggles and stumbles. We have to push through the uncomfortableness to become fully realized. There is so much more work to be done, movements, fights, conversations, growth. And since I didn’t die that night I went to jail, it’s my obligation to do what those who did, can’t. Fight.Against.Injustice.

Author: MomSelf

I reflect on being a working mother, wife, daughter, friend, advocate, and sometimes lost self, striving to become the best me and creating an extraordinary life for those I love, while making the world a better place. You can find my other writings on WISHCleveland.com.

5 thoughts on “What If I Died That Night?

  1. Pingback: Nothing New to Say About Racism – Pamela's Faith

  2. Pingback: 5 Posts to Help Start a Conversation About Racism | goodCauseBlog

  3. Thank you for sharing. I’m white and a good bit older than you. I’ve lived in a lot of places and seen a lot of things. I know you speak truth, and it breaks my heart because all of us have so much more in common than not.

  4. Pingback: Pam and Darlene | GoodCauseBlog

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