It’s Not Black…It’s Blue (a Personal Essay from Vince Edwards)

If you are connected with me on social media (especially Facebook or Twitter) you surely know how outraged I have been over the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. I banned 5 people from my Facebook page for ignorant and/or insulting comments. I lost another 30 “likes” from that page. I lost about 15 Twitter followers. I had a friend e-mail me to tell me I needed to stop being so vocal or I’d keep losing followers. I just told her, “Let them go.” I mean, am I really going to stop speaking about something I feel passionate about over fear of losing blog followers? How ridiculous! I’m never, ever, ever going to stop speaking about something that I believe in and if there is anyone that doesn’t like it then that person should go. They have the right to stop following me, and I have the right to say #sorrynotsorry. 

Throughout last week, and over the weekend, while I was releasing my anger and frustration over the murders of two black men and the overwhelming racism that once again reared its ugly head I also spoke, often at length, once again with Vince Edwards (CPO Boss Hogg). He’s appeared on my blog a few times in the past (here and here) and he shared a really powerful personal moment with me as we spoke about police brutality and racism in the United States.

It is with his permission that I share that story with you today. 


It’s Not Black…It’s Blue

I will tell this short, true story for people who don’t comprehend the level of frustration that some police have caused and the depth of contempt they’ve created for themselves in places like Compton.

I was a kid when this happened to me.

While standing with friends, also merely kids, in front of one of our homes on our street in Compton a police car, with two white officers, pulled up in front of us and stopped. Neither exited the car. The driver looked me up and down. I could see that he noticed the (very obvious bright orange & white plastic toy) gun visibly hanging out of my pocket. It was the kind they use to sell at the neighborhood corner stores, that came in paper packages, and were about the size of a kids palm. I remember it came with 5 little grey plastic pellets. Lol! He told me to walk over to him, so I did. I wasn’t apprehensive or anything cuz he’s a policeman. He told me to lean my head into the window, so I did. He reached his arm out, grasped the toy, and said, “What’s this in your pocket?”. Now, it was hanging halfway out of my (Tough Skin’s) pants pocket and he was holding it. Lol! It’s unmistakably a toy gun but still I answered him with a kid’s enthusiasm and said, “Oh, that’s my gun”.

Here’s where the dynamic between a little kid and the police shifts.

He took the gun completely out of my pocket (keep in mind my head was still leaning into the window). His partner then, from the passenger seat, pulled his service weapon from its holster, raised it, reached over the driver, and put this very large revolver to my face.

Now, the driver, while holding my toy pistol in front of him, began asking me, “Why do you have a gun?”.

My voice, audibly shaken with fright & astonishment, replied, “It’s just a toy!!”. That’s about the last utterance that was clear to me, because I was literally trying not to stare directly into the dark tunnel that was the inside of his partner’s gun barrel. It hovered just over the top of my (Coke bottle thick, almost Cat Woman shaped) glasses. I was so scared and I was very certain that I didn’t want to see the bullet that I was sure would come speeding forward right before passing through my eye and into my head. I looked away toward the left side of the barrel and that was when the fear momentarily gave way to fascination because It was then that I realized something I had never known.

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The barrel of his gun was so close to my extremely nearsighted eye that I was able to see the actual color of it. Up until then I’d always thought their guns were black but as I focused my gaze on the glimmer of sunlight that shone on the paint of the firearm I could see that I’d been wrong all that time. I thought to myself, “Hey! It’s not Black. . . it’s Blue.”

The fascination rapidly vanished when I returned to the gravity of my situation. It was about that time I could hear the driver mumbling something about, “Now, get out of here,” and I backed slowly away from the car. They drove off grinning and continued down the street.

I can’t put into words how afraid and extremely angry I was at having been used as nothing more than something for two cops to amuse themselves with while they instilled fear in the heart of a child who, up until that point, had been raised to respect and trust them, and see them as protectors. My fear was eventually completely consumed by rage as tears began to well up and stream down my cheeks. I couldn’t stop thinking, “What if his gun had gone off?”, “What if my friends had to tell my Mother & Brother that police shot and killed me?”.

I can count on one hand, from that day to this, how many encounters I’ve had with police that went little better than that. A policeman had NO BUSINESS holding his gun an inch from the eye of a child. They must’ve known that such an action could cause that child, me in this case, to not only become traumatized but grow up with great contempt & disdain for them, hating them. Even after becoming an adult and understanding that all police are not this way, it’s done little to make me trust them again. Especially since the majority of the one’s I’ve encountered throughout my life have spoken to me, and treated me with nothing but disrespect, and I’ve never given them cause to. This occurrence was only the first occasion of many that would follow, some of which, were far more alarming.

Now, that’s just one story about one inner city child. Try to envision scenarios from that to countless acts of police brutality and wrongful, needless murders at the hands of police and increase that exponentially. Then, you’ll begin to have some semblance of comprehension as to life for so many of us growing up in inner cities all across this country. We are fed up with that treatment and pleading for assistance that never comes. Violent response may not be the right answer but try and remember that violence begets violence and that the police are the initiators of that violence. How would anyone expect the victimized to respond? And, yes we would rather a peaceful resolve be found, but if one is not found the victimized will respond to violence in kind. Because, In the absence of justice, some people will settle for Retribution.

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