RACIALLY PROFILED AGAIN
Today is Saturday, March 20, 2021.
Yesterday, I went for my COVID-19 vaccine shot.
Yesterday, I was racially profiled for the fourth time on Long Island, New York.
I am now thoroughly convinced that Northern Boulevard is hazardous to my non-white self as it is the location of two of my racial profiling incidents.
Today, I'm writing to you about that experience.
About a week ago, a close friend alerted me to a reactivation of the wait-list maintained by the Nassau County Department of Health (NCDOH) for the COVID-19 vaccine shot. She texted me, insisting that I sign up immediately. I went online and within a couple of minutes I was signed up.
Fast forward about five days to Thursday. In the late afternoon on Thursday, I received an email from the NCDOH, providing me with a link to sign up for an appointment. As soon as I noticed the email, I went online and looked at their options. Great! It looked like I could make an appointment at either Nassau Community College or the Post campus of Long Island University. Of course, I clicked on the Nassau Community College link. Nothing available. Then, I clicked on the Long Island University link and there were at least six appointment slots available. I clicked on the latest appointment, which was for 2:30 PM on Friday, the next day.
* * *
When I arrived at the vaccine distribution location at Long Island University, I pulled up to an attendant who pointed at a brick building and told me two things: He told me the vaccine was being administered in that building, and then he gestured to the ample parking around the building and told me to find a place to park.
Parking was easy. I quickly parked my car and jumped out. Finding the exact location of the vaccine distribution site at Long Island University wasn't easy, so, I'd spent precious minutes navigating the campus via Northern Boulevard to find the exact location of the distribution site.
As I approached the brick building, I could see there was a police officer standing and directing people into the building. To my right, as I approached, I also saw another officer in a police cruiser. As I approached the standing officer, I could hear the two people ahead of me. As one approached the officer he said, "I'm here for the vaccine."
The officer replied, "directly ahead, sir. Thank you."
Next, a woman approached him. She simply said, "vaccine."
The officer looked at her and said, "ma’am is that your daughter with you?” A younger woman had escorted this woman to the line. The woman replied, “yes she is, but...” The officer interrupted her, saying, “she’s your companion, right? Don’t you want her to go with you?” This appeared to be some sort of code as I noticed the officer and the woman exchange smiles and a knowing look. The woman motioned to her daughter to follow her.
Then I approached the officer.
I started to speak and he promptly interrupted me. He said, "identification, please."
I said, "yes, officer." I pulled out my wallet and gave him my driver's license. He walked away from me to the officer in the nearby police cruiser. As he walked to the cruiser, another woman walked out from behind me and continued on to the brick building.
I stood where I'd been stopped, calmly looking at the officer who'd taken my driver's license as he handed it to the officer in the police cruiser.
My heart was racing.
I thought: Is this going to be the day that I die?
This is the second time I've been carded by a police officer on Northern Boulevard. The last time was a few years ago. I was driving, heading out to meet a friend. I was stopped on Northern Boulevard. I hadn't broken any laws. After requesting my driver's license, I was asked, "what are you doing here?" I thought I was going to die.
A minute passed.
It was the longest minute of my day.
When they'd finished doing their check, the standing officer came back with my license and handed it to me, saying, "go ahead."
The three people ahead (and the woman after me) were all white.
People of color notice these things.
We notice how the people around us are spoken to.
We notice how white people of power (like white police officers) speak to other white people.
We notice if the dialogue changes when we're spoken to by a white police officer.
We notice these things because we know that if we protest, we could die.
We could die.
This happens every day in America.
Land of the free.
I got my vaccine shot.
It was the Moderna vaccine.
I have to come back here on April 16th for the second dose.
I have to come back to Northern Boulevard.
Will I be carded again?
What if I simply say “vaccine” like the person ahead of me and I keep walking?
Will that be the day that I die?