Stir Journal has published my newest essay–about my elderly and terminally sick father’s brush with police brutality in which he almost got shot because the police couldn’t believe a Black man could live in such an affluent neighborhood. Incidentally, my father has lived there for over thirty years:
Last month, my father went for a walk down the street in front of his home in Arcadia, California. A few minutes in, he was stopped by police. This was about a hundred feet away from his house. The police got out of their squad car, hands already un-holstering their guns. They asked my father for identification. They asked him what he was doing there. They asked him where he lived.
To understand this story it is important to know one simple thing: My father has lived in that house for almost thirty years. He was the first Black man to move his Black family into that neighborhood. He did it for us, his children, so that we would have the best education possible at one of the best public school systems in the state. In fact, all five of us went to the neighborhood schools and graduated from Arcadia High School. Senior year, my eldest sister served on the student council as Student Representative to the Board of Education, interacting regularly with the city government; her picture hung on the wall of the Arcadia city hall. My youngest sister holds various school records in track and field and was instrumental in years of victories for Arcadia High School. The three of us middle children had varying degrees of success — orchestra and choir honors, basketball championships and more school athletic records, Honor Rolls, academic awards, and scholarships to college.
But this is respectability politics. None of this should matter. Our lives matter, no matter how much — or how little — we have given in service to the community.
Read the rest of the essay here.