Black in America
I could be Rekia Boyd. Easily. I can’t tell you how many warm nights have included me hanging out in the park with friends. Just shooting the shit you know? Have we been loud? Probably. But there’s a reason it was an off duty cop “new to the neighborhood” & not a patrol car.
People who grew up in the area wouldn’t call the cops over something as mundane as people hanging out in the park. Because they know that Chicago police can be trigger happy, and no one wants that on their conscience over some hollering. I don’t buy the idea that a large group of black bodies = crime, but I know a lot of people who trumpet on & on about the joys of gentrification do. Lawndale is definitely facing gentrification as the West Loop gets to be the newest hot spot. Garfield Park & Lawndale are right there & full of big cheap houses that could be worth millions in a few years.
So, there are new neighbors who talk about how great the properties are & how scary the long time residents are even if they never quite say why they find them so frightening. The cop mistaking a phone at someone’s ear for a gun? That’s part of the same system of scary black man myths that killed Trayvon Martin. It’s so embedded in America’s collective psyche that we’re criminals that it probably didn’t even occur to this cop that black people could be out enjoying one of the warmest March days in history & that not be a reason to suspect anything more than an impromptu block party. No weapons were recovered at the scene, a woman is dead, a man is injured & has been charged with assault for standing outside on his phone. That’s what it means to be black in America.