When you look at me, what is the first thing you notice?
If you knew me, you might think … my love for soccer; you might think … father; you might think … friend. But if you didn’t know me, what would be the first thing that YOU noticed?
If the amount of melanin in my skin is associated with a stereotype or with the way I am treated, then that’s where the problem starts.
I was lucky enough to grow up in one of the most multicultural areas in the world – the borough of Brent in London, England. I don’t actually remember being racially abused growing up, which would be the first thing you’d notice. However, it was not until I was old enough that I realized that since I was born, I have always been racially profiled. I wasn’t old enough to see it at a young age, but how does a parent respond to their child when they come home from school and asks them “Mom, why does the teacher call me lazy or loud and aggressive?” As a child – how would I ever know?
This is a feeling you can’t explain to anybody who’s never experienced this, or a child who doesn’t understand how the world works yet. YOU are the teacher of the next generation … what will YOU teach them?
For example: take two males.
One being myself – who is Black, young, and a footballer in a car which is deemed by the public to be “nice for my age.” The other being my friend – who is White, young, and a footballer who is also in a car which is deemed by the public to be “nice for his age.”
One day we were driving in his car and he made a U-turn in the middle of the road – which previously I’d been stopped by the police for. “Bro, be careful we could get stopped” he replied with a laugh. I then proceed to carry on the conversation, curiously asking him, “Have you ever been stopped by the police before in this car?”
He replied “No – only once for not having my annual MOT (Ministry of Transport) service check on my car.” For those who don’t know what this is, driving without MOT in the UK is an illegal offence.
I was shocked that he’d never been stopped by the police for no reason. In my previous experience with the police, they always stopped me because “You’re a young driver in a nice car” or “We’ve had a lot of drug activity in this area and your vehicle showed up on our system.”
I then grew confused and angry with how the system in the western world is as I can’t count on my hand with my fingers how many times I’ve been stopped by the police for no reason. I can’t count how many times I’ve been racially abused, profiled and discriminated all together.
Me and my friend are from the same area. We drive very similarly valued vehicles. Same occupation. Same age. Same morals and beliefs. Just one thing was different … and you’d have to be living under a rock as a caveman not to know what that one thing is.
This is just one example of the many times where racism has been a cloud hanging over my head – a target on my back. However, I keep moving forward and not looking back; improving and educating my circle of acquaintances on my experiences and enlightening them on things they’ll just never have to deal with.
By saying Black Lives Matter, we are just saying that we would like to be given equal opportunity – whether that be from work cooperations, propaganda stereotypes and the issue at hand right now … which is how we are treated by the police.
I stand with my brothers and sisters who are living only a few miles across the border whose lives are being taken by police in very similar road stops, which I have become accustomed to.
You wonder … if guns were legal in the UK, along with many other places in the world, would I even be alive right now?