Did you know you are not allowed to drive in El Segundo if you’re black? This is what my then-fiancé, an Italian from Buffalo New York told me. He was making light of a situation that was all too real, something I can be guilty of from time to time as well. Nervous laughter and joking are two of my coping mechanisms. But, it’s still no laughing matter as we’ve seen across the country, thanks to the internet and video footage everywhere.
I’ve had several friends who were in law enforcement, and most are great people. They have what I like to call the “hero gene”. They love coming to the rescue of others. But, as we have found out, there are plenty of bad cops out there too.
As I watched “Straight Outta Compton”, I remembered my time in Los Angeles in the mid-1980’s. I lived in Torrance, but it was in the Hispanic part of town so I was not exposed to any racial violence. I also worked in Rancho Dominguez, a Compton area neighborhood. I remember being shocked to see that our cars had to go behind high, razor wire fences.
I also remember Hip Hop being introduced to us in the suburban discos like The Red Onion and Annabelle’s. Think Vanilla. By the time Rap was really hitting it mainstream, I was already a single mother concerned with putting food on the table and not the latest music trends. So, I may have missed the Straight Outta scene, but I’ve been on the edges all my life.
One day I was at Coloma Elementary School in Sacramento. It was a beautiful old brick building with a cafeteria, a theater with full stage and giant red curtain, a big playground and two water fountains. One day, standing in line like all the other kids, I asked why no one was using the other one. “That’s the black water fountain”. Even the black kids avoided it! I was only about 6 or 7 and didn’t understand what the fuck they were talking about, so I went home and asked.
My Dad explained racial prejudice and pointed out that no one is different or better than another. I told him some of the kids at school told me blacks were crooks. He said poverty drives people to commit crime, not the color of their skin.
I got it, not just because I believed what he told me, but I felt it deep down inside. So, I started drinking from the black water fountain the very next day. I started a little trend even.
Fuck standing in line thinking your on the white/right side, and fuck the police who still hold hatred in their heart for their fellow man. Because, like it or not, we are all connected. Their hate is just a symbol of their fear, and those in that state should not be carrying around guns. Period.