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  • Writer's pictureAmber Woodruff

Prepare our Girls

The teen summer camp I started working with started this week and we discussed what it’s like being a female and also an African American female during the times of the Black Lives Matter movement, protests, and police brutality. We talked about police protocol and asked the young ladies if they knew how to handle an encounter with police officers? Most said yes, but with further questioning, they were reliant on their parents being around. I would like to count that as a win, but parents aren’t always going to be around. Even though the girls are young (12-17), they still need to be prepared.

This discussion made me think of my first solo experience with the cops. It was night time and I was supposedly stopped for a broken tail-light. But the offices questioning was way off the subject of the broken light and regular questioning. Or at least what I thought was normal.

He asked, “What I was doing?” “Why I was out?” , “Hadn’t he pulled me over before?” And a lot of other ridiculous things, all were wrong because that was My First time being stopped. And then out of nowhere three other police cars appeared and begin walking around my car. At this point, I’m terrified because I had done absolutely Nothing. And I didn’t understand why so many more officers had appeared, for a “broken light”... so whole time my stomach is in knots and I’m just praying I get to go home and without a ticket. Like I really was panicking. The officer that initially pulled me over returns with my I.D and Insurance information. He lets me go and says I need to get the light fixed and I don’t need to be out this late.

This was 2014, I was home from college visiting and just dropping a friend back at home. Literally just 15min from home but as soon as all the officers left I called my mom. On the verge of a panic attack and explained everything that had just happened. She calmed me and let me know that all stops now included more than one officer. But to me, it still wasn’t okay like, If it was just my “light” you didn’t need three officers. That is very intimidating. Even to this day, when I’m out and if I see someones tail-light out, I get offended and be like, “where is the police now?” I guess I got off easy, sort of a warning, and I used all the manners I could, remained calm and polite. Despite being confused, afraid, and slightly angry.

It made me realize that we often ONLY think to prepare our Boys for being Black men in America! But what about our girls that have to grow into Black women. We need to be giving them the police “talk” too. Or is the talk even a thing? Maybe it’s called something else for your household….. But no matter the name; We have to prepare our Girls too.

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