The very first occupation I was interested in becoming was a police officer; whenever one was around, I could not take my eyes off of their gleaming badges. For an assignment in school during kindergarten, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grow up and why. I wrote: “A police officer so I can arrest people.” My family found it humorous, but when I think back to the assignment now, all I feel is shame.
This feeling began after the Trayvon Martin shooting of 2012. The Black community was furious; surely this was not the first time a white person had unfairly shot and killed a Black male. However, this was the final straw. I remember the climate so vividly, the utter disgust. The unrest was palpable. During the following years, there was a sharp increase in the number of deaths in the Black community at the hands of white cops, all while on camera.
Whether it was because I was paying more attention or because times had truly become much worse, the bloodshed seemed to multiply out of nowhere, and now as a young Black teenage male, I became more and more afraid with every newscast. Turning off the TV didn’t fix the problem; my life at home was beginning to fall apart as well. In 2011, my parents had filed for divorce, and since then my parents have both moved from our home in Detroit to Southfield (where they “consequently” found apartment buildings across the street from one another).
As part of the move, I was also forced to start sixth grade in a new school. In an attempt to make friends I became swept up in staying up-to-date with the most current music. I dove headfirst into the pop music of 2010, and what I gravitated to most was hip-hop. It allowed me to look at people who looked like me and hear them talking about things I too had experienced. I saw the beauty behind rap through Frank Ocean, as well as its anger and passion concerning issues of the Black man in America when listening to artists such as J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. A few friends suggested I try writing myself, and ever since, I have been documenting my feelings in the form of raps, poems, essays and the occasional angrily scribbled rant.
I joined Michigan in Color because I believe my voice speaks for not only myself but everyone who is able to share my thoughts, emotions and experiences. Being a person of color at a predominantly white institution in 2018 is a journey, one full of pleasant surprises as well as shocking disappointment. When I write for MiC, I want everyone reading to feel as if we are on this journey together.