It just got real (This is America)

This is a tough blog post for me to write. I decided from the get go that I would write about different topics as I consider myself to be a multifaceted individual. I have been trying to decide whether this particular post is worth sharing and I figured that it is.

A week ago I had to fork out $270 to pay for our car to be released from an impound lot. Sigh…it’s a long story but I will take the time to share it. My son was giving a friend a ride home and on his way back home the car stopped and just gave up on him. He has been through this before, last year when we were away on vacation and he was left at home because of his basketball summer programs. At that time he had run out of gas and we had to get Tripple A to tow him to a garage only to find that the issue was gas. Based on that past experience he took the initiative got some gas and was still not able to get the car going. He came home to report that the car had broken down at a nearby neighbourhood. We couldn’t deal with it right there and then because we had to go to his school for his awards ceremony and I figured we would sort it all out later. After his awards ceremony “he received a character award by the way” we passed by the car saw that it was parked by the side of the road in a local neighbourhood and figured it was safe and we would deal with it in the morning.

Later on that night he decided to go to the car to get some of his items from the car to take with him to the gym. Ten minutes later we see him come back home very animated stating ” they are towing the car” I was like “did you stop them.” He is like ” no I was scared so I just drove past and came back here ” I’m like why were you scared you hadn’t done anything wrong” and he was like well the California Highway Patrol (CHP) were there I’m not about to get shot at”. I was like “why would you think they would shoot you up.” He was like “well you been seeing how these police react to all these black men I don’t want to be a statistic” That statement stopped me cold and sent shivers down my spine. That’s when it hit me and It made me really sad. I am raising a black man. A black man who doesn’t feel safe. A black man who was too scared to stop our car from getting towed because my poor baby was scared for his life. From my naive thought process the CHP are law enforcement all you had to do was stop, get out of the car and explain that this was your family car that had broken down and that we were going to get it towed the next day. In his mind he was like CHP=POLICE = shoot first ask later. This is the most simplistic description I can provide of how my son’s thought process went because that is really what we have been seeing. I know not all law enforcement officers are like that but unfortunately we have been seeing a lot of this lately and until it was in my own front yard (figuratively speaking) I was okay with just being an observer. But now it is actually affecting my child who is soon to go to off to college. What would you do ? I had taken his phone away from him because his grades from one class had dropped and at that point I wished he had his phone maybe it would have given him some confidence to talk to the CHP officer while having the record button on. I now understand why people do this. It helps with the helplessness feeling. There is the hope that at least if I can record this interaction others will see what we have to deal with. The question to ask is how many incidents happen that are not recorded by a cell phone? When people protest against the flag it is not because of disrespect to the flag it is more a way of saying we are suffering, listen to us. No one should be living in this type of fear. Have some empathy and try and put yourself in his shoes, until it happened to my child I was okay with just being a silent observer. It is not just my son there are others out there that feel the same fear. Some might say nothing actually happened to your son. My point is he was too scared to stop and talk to a CHP officer because he was scared of what they might do to him even though he hadn’t done anything wrong.

1.Have a conversation with your child about the America we are living in. I honestly thought we were good. We have raised a good boy. He gets good grades, he is humble and he is always being praised for his good manners. When you think deeply with a shoot first mentality no one gets a chance to know what your character really is.

2. Fear the police….is this really good advice to be giving a child? Especially one who is so well grounded. But it appears I don’t even have to give him this advice because that is exactly what he feels about the police. Which really makes me even sadder because I am sure it is only a few rotten apples that taint the rest. Unfortunately we have seen it time and time again where the shoot first ask later mentality has killed a lot of our black men.

3.What to do when your car breaks down….call mum and dad and stay by the car so that we can come and get the car towed by our own insurance company at no added expense.

4. Have the confidence to stand up for your property, (but can I really blame him for being scared)

As much as I would like to think given a similar situation he would be in a position to stop and have that confidence to speak to the CHP officer about what appeared to be a neglected car, I can’t really blame him for reacting in fear. How can we change this? I have another son I am bringing up and it makes me sad that these are the types of thoughts our kids are having about our law enforcement officers. I would love to get a conversation going.

This is really giving me a lot of food for thought. I have to take my own advice and Stop, Take a Breath, and Reassess Life.

With Love and Gratitude

Fatsani Dogani

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