way that we police Black and brown people, but specifically Black people in this country, I’m against that. So when I say what I’m about to say, hopefully that’s the lens through which people will understand this. The majority of my life, I’ve been taught how to interact with police, and not simply interact but more so how to survive police. Because the thought is you can die in any encounter with police. And as we’ve seen through social media, as we’ve seen through videos, that’s a reality. I’ve told young men that “the system is not broken. The system is doing exactly what it was designed to do. Your job is to try to survive the situation.” So my history with police has been one that is, in my adult years, to hold accountable. But yes, I’ve had experiences with police, going back to my teenage years—being cuffed, being profiled. A lot of Black people have. “You fit the description”—I mean, all of that, that’s all happened to me. “Can you step out of the car? There was a car that looked like yours and robbed a local gas station a few minutes ago. We need to search the car.” I’ve had guns pulled on me. That’s sort of the day-to-day experience of Black men and women.
KOERRI WASHINGTON, 32
My relationship with the police is like, I don’t know—they’re really nice to me now. I’ve had situations with police individually. I tell people all the time, when I was eighteen, at my place, I had a graduation party. Cops come. You know, I’m not 21 and people are drinking and stuff. So I don’t know what to do. I go to my bathroom—so I’m just sitting on my toilet. I was like, man, what am I gonna do? My brother was my roommate—I didn’t tell him that we were having a party or anything. I was young, I didn’t know what I was going to do. A cop comes in, and first thing he says: “What are you doing, flushing your crack?” And I’m like, “Whoa, all right. I don’t know why you would say that to me. But I’m literally just sitting here and not doing anything.” So it was the first time I had ever dealt with, I guess you could say, “subtle racism.” To me, it was racist as hell, honestly, because I had never seen crack before and, like, had a 3.8 GPA and scholarships and was a great person but, apparently, I’m a drug dealer.