But more often than not, I wish it wouldn’t.
It mattered the day I was walking to my car at Lenox Mall when I was ordered inside a police car until I sufficiently explained my purpose for being in the deck. The keys in my hand and the cars between lines provided no clue. It mattered the very next time I was in the very same deck and ordered inside a police car until I sufficiently explained my purpose. Again.
My black life mattered the day I was helping my sister-in-law move her furniture from her apartment to a moving van when several police officers aimed their guns at me until I sufficiently explained my purpose. Carrying a microwave to a moving van provided no clue.
My black life mattered the day I was looking through storefront windows and police detained me and questioned me until I sufficiently explained my purpose. It mattered further when I reached into my pocket for my wallet and they pulled their guns on me. My black life almost became matter on the pavement.
My black life mattered the day I was ordered inside a room at the DeKalb county courthouse and forced to explain my purpose. Being a lawyer wearing a suit in a courthouse provided no clue.
My black life mattered the night I was jogging in my Johns Creek subdivision when a police officer drove 5 mph and followed me for nearly a half mile until I finally and exasperatedly turned around and yelled, “What?!?!” My running shorts, running shirt and running shoes provided no clue of my lawful presence. After all, I WAS running. It WAS dark.
I never really thought of myself as a thug. I’m clean cut. Clean-shaven. No dreads. No golds. No tats. No sagging pants. Hell, I even own a pair of khakis.
But what do I know. Maybe I AM a thug. I graduated college but it took me 5 years. I graduated law school but I wasn’t top ten. I served 3 terms in the state House of Representatives but I never got more than 60% of the vote. I served 9 years as a judge but does Probate court really count? I’ve appeared on news shows as an expert on political and legal matters but my tie didn’t always quite match.
Or maybe just maybe my skin is the sin and no accomplishment vaccine can inoculate me.
Sometimes I wish I could try on white skin. Not to keep; just to test drive for a few days. But moreso, I wish my white friends who condemn the black lives matter mantra could wear my skin. They’d probably cut the test drive short. They’d know what it feels like to be routinely viewed as a suspect instead of a person. They’d learn that black lives do indeed matter.
But oftentimes, for all the wrong reasons.