“I learned that this is hurt, this is pain.”
I started off living in Trail Hill, and then my brother and I were moved from my Mom by CPS to a foster care outside of San Francisco. Then my mom was awarded us back and that put us smack dab in the TL [Tenderloin] in a hotel.
We finally moved into transitional housing on Eddy and Taylor and were there until I was like 12, 13, before we finally got our first place right on the Thomas Street. We were one of the first families to live in there. Going there with my Mom and for the first time ever having my first room, it was just...I didn't have any words.
Going into high school and being able to put up pictures in my own room, it helped me stay hopeful to know things do change, and they can get better. There was just always something about me that wanted to shine. I wanted to leave something bigger.
I was the type of person that hung out with a lot of guys. I hung with the homies, and the homies were always terrorized by the police. They could be smoking a cigarette and if even looked like it could marijuana, the police would come.
Everyone I knew hated the police. The police always looked us up and down, always saw us as a target. There didn't even have to be any evidence. We could just be walking down the street and you could just feel the energy change when it comes to police interaction.
I remember one incident, the police came into my Mom’s building looking for a young lady. The mom came to the stairs and asserted herself like, “No, you may not talk to my child.” I’ve never seen police ram people up so quickly. There was no questions, no conversation, just action. They slammed her down on the floor, she had a knee on her neck, she was turning red, she couldn't breathe, and they would not get off her. When they finally walked her out, her hair was all messed up, her face was bruised, the kids were crying. They locked her up and then didn’t apologize, didn’t do any clean up.
It impacted me because I learned that this is hurt, this is pain, this is resentment. This is unacceptable, and why would I want to build a relationship with people that already see me less-than?
So I’ve seen both sides. I saw that weed could be something that brings people together and opens up the world. I saw that it could be used as a cure for sickness, as something that could calm you, as something that would benefit you with sleep.
And then I saw people that started with weed and got addicted to crack because they were lacing it, and I saw how the police used weed as a reason to assert themselves, be aggressive, and dictate every little step we take. You learn not to assert your rights because the laws aren’t made for you, they’re made for everyone else.
For white people, it's a completely set of circumstances. One of my kids has one joint, or just that's the one time they snap and say something out of line, and it could mean death, jail. The stakes are just so high in every interaction.
Now as an adult, I believe that I can change around any situation, regardless of the other person. Working with youth and being able to talk to people in power and express our concerns helps to elevate my confidence when it comes to police interaction. Now, I now take the opportunity to use my power, to use my authority. I want to take love and I want to take positive energy and I want to create the change that I want to see in the future.