I was with a group of my friends hanging out in the city at night, and we were getting on Bart to go home. I am white, and so are most of my friends, but my friend Derrick is black. Before we got on Bart, Derrick asked me to hold his backpack until we got past the Bart officers and tollgates. I asked why, and he explained that he felt unsafe carrying it through Bart because police would be more likely to search him or pull him to the side. I agreed to carry it at the moment and I didn’t really think about it very hard. Later though I began to contemplate how life would be if I was scared to be around the people that were supposed to be keeping me safe. My friend opened my perspective a little bit more that day. We were going to Fruitvale Bart, and it made me think about the shooting of Oscar Grant.
It made me think of all the other black men who were killed by police. According to The Washington Post, of the 60 unarmed people killed by police in 2015, black males made up 40%, (24), despite them being only 6% of the US population.
I realized, through this and other experiences, that people of my complexion play an important role in movements like Black Lives Matter. It takes more than the minority population to make change happen. We have to listen to the stories of our non-white peers. We need to show up to rallies and be part of the physical crowd, not just online. We need to challenge people who speak in ways that encourage racism. Im grateful for Derrick because in sharing his story he expanded my view of the situation, and showed me the reality of many black men and women in America.