There are days when I think long and hard about what I'm wearing out and about. I don't mean out for a party or work or to dinner with friends, but just a general running around outfit. It's not because vanity rules the day, but because fear does. If there is one thing I know for sure, it's that at any second my comfortable warm-up pants could make me look like a troublemaker and this could happen; from The Oregonian:
One minute, Delease Carter, a guard on the Portland Community College women's basketball team, was walking home with two friends in North Portland. The next thing she knew she was facedown with a cop's knee on her head with the sound of guns being cocked. The three friends were eventually let go, but the 21-year-old PCC student says their biggest crime appears to have been walking down the middle of the street with one of them wearing a blue Kansas City Royals baseball cap.
From appearances, it seems that Ms. Carter was wearing baggy pants and a stocking hat. The police didn't realize she was a woman until the end of the encounter:
Carter and her friends say they didn't have weapons and aren't gang members. "They just stepped out of the car assuming that I had a weapon," said [Maury] Sails, who was wearing the cap. "To me, they had their own mindset. They were trying to mess with us, trying to find something. We didn't do nothing." He said he heard the commotion when they took Carter to the ground but was scared to look. If the police had asked for Carter's ID early on, they would have known she was a woman and hopefully treated her better, [Elijha] Stanton says.
Ms. Carter and her friends were doing nothing of consequence. I'd like to say I'm surprised, but at least once a week I see the police surrounding a group of dark-skinned kids. And just like Ms. Carter's friend, I'm afraid to look lest I also end up on the ground - or worse. She ended up with a knot on her forehead, a swollen bump and cut behind her right ear. There seems to be no rhyme or reason, just more than two people of color walking somewhere together stirs up reaction in the police.
I do not think it's White cop versus Black citizen; one of the officers involved is Black. It is more the continued socialization that if one is Black, that might mean trouble. This is true here and all over the country. There is an innate fear that many of us do not acknowledge and refuse to address when confronted. The person who should be addressing it and is painfully silent is the Mayor of Portland.
Mayor Adams, I don't like being scared in my own town. I don't like that feeling in my chest when I see a police officer and I force myself to look him in the eye so he doesn't think I'm the one he's coming for that day. And I don't like that I sometimes think that I will be Ms. Delease Carter; I will not be able to silence my anger and end up in a very bad place. I think that one day, one of these unknown victims might be known and you'll look back and wonder what else you could have done. Say something, Mayor Adams, or this will keep happening and next time it could be me.