In 2016, I was driving in downtown Los Angeles to appear for jury duty. Unfamiliar with the neighborhood, I approached an entrance to a garage near the court I was to attend. As I got closer to the arm of the gate and ticket booth, a police officer told me I couldn’t park there. Confused, I politely inquired where I could park, stating that I was there for jury service. A harmless question I thought.
He angrily quipped, “I don’t know, but not here.” I circled around to exit, and naively thought that maybe if I asked on my way out, he could at the very least point me in the right direction. However, he put his hand on his holster, and this time violently yelled that if I didn’t leave now, he would arrest me for trespassing. His partner was standing by, and gave me a look of empathy. He could tell I was noticeably shaken and on the verge of tears.
After catching my breath, I sped off.
When I entered the courthouse, I couldn’t control crying as nearly 100+ people, also summoned for service, watched me shake and hiccup to a back row of seats. I had never experienced anything like that.
Once I was able to calm myself down, two thoughts came to mind: 1) I could have been the next Sandra Bland. I’m a woman of a color and I have a history of depression. The police could have easily used this against me, my mental health. 2) How can I protect myself? Maybe I could wear a bulletproof vest, I thought. This may be a day-to-day inconvenience, but I would be safe. The idea ultimately humored me and thus, the parody of “Miracle Bulletproof Hoodies” was born.
Under the label and vision of Project Black Spoon–which plays with the idea of a person born with a silver spoon in their mouth, and reverses it to recognize people born without inherent privilege–MBH has come to life as a way to use comedy to inform and disarm. The intention is to spark a deeper understanding of the daily fears and harrowing experiences Black Americans face regularly.
By using writing and media, I hope to bring this discussion to a wider audience and give voice to people of color who may feel encumbered and alone in a world that at the end of the day still controls their narrative.
And if nothing more, I want people to know that this piece is about resistance to the violence. This piece is about rebirth, honoring those who were killed unjustly and resurrecting their memory. And this piece is the rising, giving way to more social change and justice.
Thank you for reading and sharing in my experience.