I owe my fellow Oreos a big apology. Not only did I shirk my patriotic duty to serve on a duty, but I used my race card to get out of it.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to serve. My blood runs red, white and blue and few things are more patriotic than taking a part in America’s judicial process. But work would not wait for the six-day trial.
During the voir dire, I was asked if I could be objective in the case. I looked at the defendant of color and knew what I had to say.
As much as I wanted to praise our fellows in law enforcement for their tireless efforts to protect and serve, I felt myself regurgitating stories that, while true, are not ones that an Oreo should dwell on.
It was years ago and I was going on a ride-along with local law enforcement. We pulled over several cars that evening. With most of the cars, the officer ran the tags and when the vehicle checked out, the driver was sent on his or her way.
With one, however, the officer took the driver out of the car, put him in handcuffs on the corner and then ran the tags. When the vehicle checked out, the office undid the cuffs and then sent the driver on his way.
That one driver happened to be a driver of color.
I also told the story of the time I was put in the back of a police car.
I was walking down the street with a friend in a small town we were visiting. It was late evening and I was wearing an off-label jacket. The officers drove up behind us with their lights off and stopped just inches before our heels. The jumped out of the car, separated the two of us and I was pushed back toward the car and plopped into the backseat ahead of my friend.
As it was the dead of winter, my hair was under a cap, so there was no way for them to see the relaxed locks that showed that I was not a threat; and my scarf hid Tiffany’s chain from view. The officers were nice enough to present their badges and identification to me–they were in plain sight on their clothes. I could have, should have done the same.
While I am positive there were potentially dozens of unseen variables that led to the officers making the decisions that they did, I did not go into that in front of the attorneys. I simply stated those facts, allowed the attorneys to realize these experiences might make me unobjective, then collected my belongings when they dismissed me from my duty.
I left the courthouse with mixed feelings. On one hand, I neglected my civic duty. On the other hand, I was on my way back to work; and few things are more patriotic than perpetuating our beloved capitalism…so It wasn’t like I wasn’t serving at all.
And the stories served as a good reminder, especially since fall is coming up. The next time I need to layer when I’m outside, I will make sure to do it with the right brands.