Travelling while black

Posted by Jay in Travel on August 16th, 2014

Travelling while black is bad for your health

via @Megan Sims

Looking the way I do, I don’t pose any kind of threat to anyone apart from a bug that might get caught under my shoe. I am 5’2; I am disabled and most importantly look disabled and non-threatening. I am not the poster child of the person you cross the street to get away from in case I might jump you, purely because I can’t run and I look like I can’t run after anybody. Coupled with the fact that apparently I “sound like a white person”, I can seem to do no wrong while walking around black. For all intents and purposes I may as well be a nice little white lady with crutches going about her business. So, the only thing keeping me safe from the danger of my race is my disability.

Even though I am thousands of miles away from where it has all been happening, since the news story of the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO has broken, it has upset and angered me and I just can’t stop thinking about it. It has been shared all around the world about the events leading up to his death and the police officers’ actions in the situation. And the reaction from the police thereafter, which included throwing teargas and firing rubber bullets at the  peaceful protestors.

Unfortunately, this headline and scene are not an uncommon thing to see on our TV screens and in our newspapers. While black people make up around 13% percent of the US population, they are the majority race within American jail cells. These are the exact same faces that you see getting murdered and ending up in prisons countless times all across the country. It’s so upsetting to see that being black is detrimental to your health and wellbeing. Yet, you can go about your day to day kidnapping people from their own countries and bring them over as slaves, to a country you stole from the natives and nearly wiped them out. And then have the audacity to tell non-white people to leave your country. But I’m the dangerous one.

For so many years, I have felt like the little black pill that was easy for white people to swallow because of how I look and sound. Unlike the other “ethnic youths” I appear harmless, but without all of this I would just be a potential hoodlum or even worse, another statistic. Because of my upbringing and where I live, I did not notice such a divide until later on in life. I really do think that without my crutches I would have noticed certain things sooner. People following me around stores, being “randomly” stopped and just having people weary of me because of the way I look.

While I was living in America, I did notice this fear and wariness of the police force which was alien to me. So many times I have been lost in London or elsewhere and I would go to the nearest police officer I could find and ask for assistance, and they were always more than willing to help me. I had instances like that in America also, where they were very helpful and cordial towards me.

But I can definitely understand the fear of police officers as over here in London, I have walked by many embassies in the capital and the most imposing and terrifying one had to be the American embassy. No other embassy I’ve seen is as big or as heavily guarded as theirs, big guns in plain sight to let you know that they are not to be messed with, or approached in any kind of way. And now it is being reported that the police force across the States is being kitted out with the latest in war weapons. Do you really need such big guns patrolling on Main St.

London does have its own problems and we are far from perfect, but the actions of the American police and the amount of power they have over their citizens across the pond is just mind boggling. We too have our own race issues to battle with, including the shooting of Mark Duggan and the use of stop and search procedures that affect mainly black people, especially black men. This is also true in the United States, and is not meant to be an attack on the nation but there is a need to address it.

But as mentioned previously, every time something like this happens it gets me thinking of all the times I have gone outside while it’s dark with a hoodie on. I have never experienced someone so much as flinching while walking past me, I don’t fit the profile of someone they fear especially not when I start talking. It does beg the question, at what point does my accent assure you of your safety around me? I could very well decide to hit you over the head with my very metal crutches when you’re not looking – no running involved there at all.

It appears that if you are walking/travelling while black, you are immediately guilty of something until you prove your innocence. People can go a long way being able to kill and murder black people WHOLESALE, in the hundreds and even thousands. Yes, you could become president if you have such ambitions because that black life doesn’t matter quite as much, if at all. But when even yelling “DON’T SHOOT” doesn’t stop that from happening, it’s obvious that while your life may not be worthless, it most certainly is worth less.


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about Jayon UPDATE: As of 25/09/2015 Nigeria has been removed from the WHO's Polio Endemic List! Having been born in Nigeria, I hail from one of three countries where polio is still unfortunately endemic, the other two being Pakistan and Afghanistan. I had contracted the poliovirus before my ...Read More

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