“You might have noticed I haven’t yet addressed the death of George Floyd. The past few days my wife and I have spent our time having discussions, processing, and praying together for our country and our future. My wife was the first one to tell me what happened and it has taken me some time to fully process my thoughts and feelings on such an intense issue that has reached a boiling point in our country.
First, a little about me. I was born into a multi-racial family. My mother’s father, my grandfather, is Caucasian. His wife, my grandmother, is from a small fishing village in Thailand. My father is African American and I am married to a beautiful redheaded white woman with a multi-racial daughter named Lorelai. It doesn’t matter what I actually am, or what my family looks like. When people see me, they see my skin and they see Black.
As a black man, life has not always been easy. Growing up, I had several experiences that quickly taught me that my skin color made me different. On one hand, I never felt “black” enough to be accepted by the black community or by my fellow black peers. On the other hand, more than once, I have found myself looking around a room and feeling like the “token black guy.”
One story that comes to mind occurred when I came from college one weekend. I went to a small family birthday party with one of my close white friends. The party was for his cousin, and his whole family was attending. Shortly after arriving, my friend’s father was told that I was not welcome because I was black, and demanded that we all left. All of those who were with me were outraged. On the ride home, everyone apologized to me with tears in their eyes. No one including me understood how someone could hate me without even knowing my name. I’ve been ignored, called names, and spit on; not only as a black man, but also as a black police officer.
As a former police officer, I have experienced the hatred of law enforcement first hand. I have been told, I “wasn’t black” because I worked for “the man” by other black men and women. While in uniform, I have been called a traitor and other derogatory names. I would frequently take stickers and candy to areas in the black community to give out to children. I wanted to build relationships within these communities. I wanted to show the kids that I was there for them, and not to be afraid of the police. After giving out the stickers and candy, it was not uncommon to see the parents of these children rip the stickers off their shirts or pull the sucker from their mouth. The parent would always state, “we don’t talk to the police.” Most times black citizens would not acknowledge me in uniform, or would flat out tell me to leave. I was treated differently solely based on my career.
I tell you this to show you that hate does not see color and it is taught at a young age.