The day started off normal. It was the first week of school, and I was a new and nervous second grader attending a private school in Redondo Beach, California. My mom bought me a new outfit, a pink skirt that had a matching sweater with glitter hearts on it. She braided my hair beautifully and my dad packed my sister and me lunches to take to school. Our house was only a short ten minute drive to school and my parents drove us together that day. I was so excited.
During the drive I noticed a police car following behind us, but at such a young age, had no idea what that meant. I remember my dad looking in the rear-view mirror and commenting about the officer, but to this day I cannot recall his exact words. What I remember is my sister and I being so small and sitting in the backseat clutching our lunch boxes nervous to enter our new school. As my dad pulled up to the front of the school he told us to not worry and to go into school. What followed after is a moment that I will never forget, and a moment that literally changed my entire outlook on life, the police, and my being as a child and now a woman of color.
I slowly opened the car door because at this time the officer had turned on lights and yelled something from a speaker to my dad. My dad just wanted to get us to school, and I realize as an adult, that he was telling us to not worry, to get out, and just go to school, because he knew something would happen that he did not want us to see. My new bracelets jiggled against my skin as I struggled to open the back door. My dad could not get out of the car to walk us into school. Now, I understand why, but then I remember thinking about how heavy the door to our car was. I finally got the door open to start my day at school, as I opened the door and stepped my foot out onto the ground, the police officer reached for his gun and pointed it at me. Again, I was 7, and in front of my Christian private school, clutching my lunchbox. In that moment I felt scared and my dad yelled for me and my sister to go to school, so that’s what we did. That was my introduction to the police. That was my introduction to racism.