Black History Month
Sometimes White People Surprise Me
I was a young Black woman on the wrong path, a White police officer changed my future
“Wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference.” –Kevin Heath
Because there is so much attention paid to a Karen incident or racist act; it is easy to forget that most humans are decent. That decency made a difference in my life. Many want to brush all White policeman with a racist brush, but no group is homogeneous. My future was saved by an act of kindness of an older White officer. I was attempting to sabotage myself and he stopped me.
Picked Up By the Police
My friends and I were out drinking, dancing, and misbehaving. We were in a bar when a fight started. The police were called. We were too stupid to leave when the craziness started, so we were there to be picked up. Although I hung out with bad people, I had done nothing illegal…yet.
When the police picked us up, my friends spat on the officers and called them pigs, twisting and rolling on the ground. One of my group pissed on the floor. I looked away.
I did not act up. The officer that grabbed me was an older white officer. I spoke to the officer respectfully and quickly did as I was told — no falling on the ground for me. No cursing. No peeing. (I had not mentioned to my new friends that my father was a Chicago police detective, so I behaved myself as I was being picked up.)
The policeman walked me out to his car and put me in. I sat there quietly as he leaned against the car door, watching as the other officers struggled with their catches. It took two officers for every one partier as the partiers fought not to be brought out of the club. People were getting banged up.
When we got to the station, my friends continued their rowdy behavior, laughing and cursing. I was somber, thinking how I would miss work and get fired the next morning. I’m confident my face reflected my regret resulting from poor decision making. I wanted to cry, but if I cried, I would be the subject of abuse that night in the jail, so I held it in. I decided I would start a fight once the lights went out. I would not be prey for anyone.
He took me outside the station, handed me my belongings, and let me go. I remember he said,” Get out of here, kid.” Like in a movie. “Get out of here, kid.” I cried all the way home on the bus. I would not lose my job and disappoint my parents. I could take care of my kid. I did not expect a White person to help me. His generosity humbled me.
While they searched our purses, my arresting officer came into the area. He asked what they had found on me. The answer was nothing. Although I was dressed like a female thug, I did not have drugs because I did not do drugs. I smoke nothing. I didn’t carry a gun. My purse contained my work I.D., my checkbook, make-up, and a few dollars. The officer walked over and asked me my name, I told him.
Humbled By Kindness
My officer spoke to the processors. I did not get fingerprinted, instead he took me outside the station, handed me my belongings, and let me go. As the arresting officer, he could do that. And he did. I remember he said,” Get out of here, kid.” Like in a movie. “Get out of here, kid.” I cried all the way home on the bus. I would not lose my job and disappoint my parents. I never expected a White person to help me. His generosity humbled me.
At the time, I didn’t fully understand the consideration that he was showing me. The officer prevented my fingerprints from being added to the U.S. criminal justice system. Years later, while seeking government employment, I never needed to explain why I was arrested… because there was no record of my youthful foolishness. When my fingerprints were checked, they were clean.
The main thought was the stark realization that if I continued to hand around with my new friends I was headed somewhere I did not need to go. The second thought was that perhaps I was a bit of a fool to think that all White people were the devil. They were not.
I don’t know why the policeman interceded for me that day. It may have been my big, frightened eyes. It may have been my respectful attitude; it may have been that I had a work I.D. and no drugs. Maybe I reminded him of some young woman he knew; all I know is that he made me think with his actions that day. The main thought was the stark realization that if I continued to hand around with my new friends, I was headed somewhere bad. The second thought was perhaps I was a bit of a fool to think that all White people were the devil. They were not.
I took his kindness and I have played it forward many times, helping anyone that I can. But I never got to tell him “Thank You”. His actions made a difference in my perception and my success. Let me say it now. Thank you.
I’m the Only Black Person in This Room: Why Do You Believe I’m in the Wrong Place?
Sometimes… you just have to ask.
Toni Crowe retired to pursue her dream of being a writer. Toni has written six books. Her bestselling business book, ‘Bullets and Bosses Don’t Have Friends’ won a Gold Readers Award.