If Bloomberg wins, I write in another candidate

Why my first time being racially profiled put me in the #NeverBloomberg campaign

Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Mar 1 · 6 min read
Photo credit: Prawny/Pixabay

Update: To my surprise (and delight), former Mayor Michael Bloomberg has dropped out of the presidential race after his abissmal results on Super Tuesday. (Source: CNN)

This entire week, I have rolled my eyes to the sky every time I open my mailbox because I know there will be another postcard from billionaire Michael Bloomberg. I already find it obnoxious that he thinks he can buy his way into the presidency and apparently has decided that Turbo Tax is for peons. (If you’ve paid your taxes on time and regularly, the paperwork should already be available. Cross out your Social Security number and mailing address, and release it.)

I can even brush off his pandering about how he “knows” that if he was African-American, he wouldn’t have been as successful. Hell, I don’t even too much mind the folks who are getting $70K for entry-level jobs to campaign for him. Cash those checks and vote for someone else anyway. He uses minorities for the look; use his money for yours. (As complicated as Gravity CEO Dan Price’s story is, I’d rather vote for that $70K-paying boss than Bloomberg.)

Do I think Bloomberg will make it past the primaries? Not at all, regardless of his persistence to “stay right to the bitter end.” But I also didn’t think former President Barack Obama would win in 2008. Imagine my utter shock when I walked out of my former employer’s newsroom and across the street to Grant Park. It took me seeing Obama on a Jumbotron television before I really comprehended that he actually won, so I’m not someone who you should look to for betting odds. In 2012, I was far more optimistic.

Still though, I am a #NeverTrump supporter who will break away completely if it comes down to Bloomberg and Trump. This stop-and-frisk presidential candidate on the ballot (and Tulsi Gabbard) are the only ways I’ll write someone in come November.

I graduated from a high school that was next door to a police station. If you’ve ever seen the 1995 film “Higher Learning,” then you already know what it was like to walk on school grounds. I was constantly asked to show my ID, as if I couldn’t possibly attend this school. Never mind that at least one-third of students were African-American and another third were Hispanic. The school pretty much let police cars show up on campus to keep loiterers away. I’d grown used to it and hung my ID around my neck as soon as I got off the bus.

But I distinctly recall one morning that made me change my tune about this loiter-free sham. My grade point average (GPA) was high enough to allow me to not be required to take a standardized test. (I cannot recall what the test was for.) People with a certain GPA were allowed to come in about an hour or two after test takers. My teenage self took the Metra train to school that day, happy as hell to have gotten the extra sleep. A police car pulled up to me, and I rolled my eyes. Here we go again with the IDs. But this time was a little different. One officer wanted to know my height, weight, age, address, etc. It was just a lot of unnecessary questions for a teenager headed in the direction of the school, not away from it.

Photo credit: weisanjiang/Pixabay

I answered all his questions, annoyed that I was being drilled like this. But when I said my address, one of the two officers eyed me suspiciously and said, “Tough neighborhood.” I stared back at him and responded, “Not if you know the right people.” Now as a grown woman, I realize that was the absolute wrong thing to say to an officer who is already clearly profiling you. But as a naive teenager who felt like she was being punished for having a high GPA, this was a “gotcha” comeback. The way he cut his eyes at me and the way I held his gaze immediately caught the attention of the quieter officer, who started talking over the original officer before he could respond — trying to diminish what was becoming a tense exchange.

But what happened next was what forever changed my views on officers here to “protect and serve” all people. A blue-eyed, blonde girl walked directly behind me, coming from the same Metra train station I’d just walked away from. I turned to look at this girl, who was my age, and then turned to look back at the officers. And I waited for them to stop her. The “tough neighborhood” officer looked from her and then turned to look away from both of us until she completely walked by. I turned around and watched her as she walked, and I looked back at both of them. The response from the quieter officer: “That’s all we need, thank you.” The “tough neighborhood” officer just looked back in my direction in stone-cold silence. I matched his expression.

It didn’t take a high GPA to figure out what had just happened. I shook my head and walked away. I don’t blame the girl for being who she is. She was born looking the way she looked the same way I was born looking the way I look. And somehow I still managed to be reasonably optimistic when I attended a PWI that only backed up my suspicions about the differences between how black women are generally treated by entirely too many law enforcement officers and professors, too. It’s the kind of experience that Bloomberg will never understand because he’s never lived in a body that is regarded as suspicious for just living, breathing and minding her damn business on her way to school.

To me, an empty VHS case is a more reliable candidate than reality TV show enthusiast Donald Trump. I will gladly vote for whoever wins the Democratic primary except for one person; Bloomberg simply won’t cut it for me. He should’ve run against Trump in the Republican party. The former mayor could’ve done so without that mediocre 18-years-too-late apology for New Yorkers who were victims of his stop-and-frisk policy.

But I have found a productive use for these postcards I keep getting in my mailbox. I have to clean up dog poop almost daily as a regular dog walker and boarder. Save the biodegradable poop bags; use Bloomberg’s presidential campaign paper waste instead. It’s already garbage to me anyway.

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I Do See Color

“Seeing” color is no more a problem than “seeing” height.

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

15-year vegetarian journalist/editor; part-time dog walker and dog sitter; Toastmasters member and 5x officer; WERQ dance and yoga enthusiast; Shamontiel.com

I Do See Color

We are not ashamed of our melanin, and we know you “see” it. Just don’t discriminate and disrespect us because of it.

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