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Why Are You Afraid of Me?

By Pastor Lee Allen Jenkins

 

leej6I was 6-years old and thought policemen were superheroes like Batman & Robin. That view was shattered when I, along with my 8 and 9-year old cousins, unknowingly walked through a “Whites Only” park on a scorching hot summer day in southern Georgia. An angry police officer ran towards us and grabbed us, pushed us, and slapped one of my cousins in the face. I was just 6-years old and I was petrified.

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

I was walking home from middle school. Two white men approached slowly in a car. They pulled up next to me. I thought that they were getting ready to ask me for directions. Then the passenger yelled, “NIGGER!” They drove off laughing.

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

I waited at the bus stop one evening after basketball practice. I was tired and just wanted to get home. A police car sped towards me. The siren lights flashed, the brakes screeched. The officer jumped out of the car and turned his flashlight into my face with his hand already on his gun.

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

I walked into the grocery store looking to buy bubblegum and toothpaste. The clerk saw me come in and immediately began following me around the store. Down every aisle. At the counter I handed the clerk my cash to pay for the merchandise and waited for her to place the change in my open hand. The clerk slammed my change on the counter with contempt, avoided eye contact, looked behind me and said, “Next.”

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

I was seventeen. I had never committed a crime. A police officer arrested me, cuffed me, and threw me in jail. I was profiled.

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

fullsizerender_1At 18, I was driving the speed limit in my old, beat up, green, Chevrolet Malibu. The police officer pulled me over for no reason. Maybe, I needed to drive a newer car.

At 25, I was driving the speed limit in my brand new Honda Accord. The police officer pulled me over for no reason. Maybe, I needed to drive a more expensive car.

At 32, I was driving the speed limit in my brand new Mercedes Benz. The police officer pulled me over for no reason. He asked me, “How can you afford a car like that?” Maybe, I was too young to drive such a nice car.

I was driving the speed limit in my Lexus sedan. The officer pulled me over for no reason. I was 40. I was driving the speed limit in my Lincoln Navigator. The officer pulled me over for no reason. I was 50.

Maybe, it doesn’t matter what I drive. Maybe, it isn’t me.

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

I came into the office on Saturday mornings. Instead of playing golf or being with my wife and three kids, I chose to put in overtime to get ahead. Every Saturday, the security guard insisted on seeing my I.D. When I asked, “Why do you always stop me? The guard replied, “I’m just doing my job. It’s our policy to check IDs on the weekend.” Even as he said it, I watched him wave to every white employee that walked pass the security desk. Never asking them for more than a smile.

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

I was promoted into a new private office. I was happy. My “peers” welcomed me with the replica of a Ku Klux Klan mask in the middle of my desk. They laughed hysterically. It wasn’t funny to me.

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

When I spoke with conviction and passion, I was told I was an “angry black man.”
When I spoke with intelligence and confidence, I was told I was an “arrogant black man.”

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

When I told some prospective clients about my degree, investment certifications, and client list, they told me it didn’t matter because, “I would never do business with a Black financial advisor.” I said, “But I can help you build a better investment portfolio.” One man replied, “The only thing Blacks can do for me is clean my house, mow my lawn, or shine my shoes.”

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

I was the only Black financial adviser invited to the prestigious President’s Club banquet honoring the firm’s top producers. During the awards ceremony, the emcee and audience enthusiastically celebrated each honoree as they proudly strutted across the stage to receive their plaques. When my name was called, I could have heard a pin drop. No “attaboys,” high-fives, handshakes, or pats on the back. No one wanted to celebrate my success. I was not welcomed to “the club.” I was the outsider.

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

When the elevator door opened, the woman took a step inside. I nodded politely when she looked up and noticed me. She took a step back and said, “I’ll just wait for the next one.”

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

When I called the number on the real estate sign about leasing some commercial space for the growing church I pastor, the agent couldn’t set up a meeting quickly enough. Then, he called me back after viewing our website and said, “I don’t think you can afford it.” 

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

I had a house under contract in an affluent subdivision. Before we moved in, I walked through the house with my contractor. Suddenly, I heard a loud noise that sounded like windows shattering. The neighborhood boys were throwing rocks at the widows of my house. The damage was substantial.

Undeterred I moved into the million-dollar subdvision anyway. Within one month, many of my neighbors started putting up FOR SALE signs in their yards.

fb2197c0-243d-4a76-ba4c-edc3b6cdb577Why Are You Afraid of Me?

I drove slowly through my beautiful neighborhood feeling proud. I had achieved the American dream. I noticed an older neighbor walking his dog. He motioned for me to stop. Then he approached my car and demanded to know why I was driving through his neighborhood.

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

For ten years, the white middle school boys roamed the neighborhood woods brandishing paintball guns. Nobody complained. “Boys will be boys” they said. When my middle school sons did the same; everybody complained. The homeowners association convened and outlawed paintball guns in the neighborhood. One neighbor told me, “the sight of black boys with guns frightened people.”

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

A neighbor accused my eleven-year-old son of stealing her $13,000 earrings. When I asked for proof of the accusation, she said, “He is the only Black person who’s ever been inside my house.” She found the earrings. I never received an apology.

fullsizerenderWhy Are You Afraid of Me?

When a neighbor accused my son of stealing his son’s bike, I told him that we had been on vacation for the entire week, and more importantly we don’t steal.

He found the bike, at a white neighbor’s house. I never received an apology.

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

  • Trayvon Martin was walking from a convenience store. George Zimmerman followed him. Dead.
  • Eric Garner was selling loose cigarettes. The police arrived. Dead.
  • Michael Brown was jaywalking. The police arrived. Dead.
  • Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was playing with a toy gun in an empty park. The police arrived. Dead.
  • Freddie Gray made eye contact with an officer. Dead.
  • Walter Scott was pulled over by an officer for a malfunctioning brake light. He ran. Dead.
  • Alton Sterling was selling CDs. The police arrived. Dead.
  • Philando Castille told the officer he was reaching for his wallet. Dead.
  • Terence Crutcher’s car broke down. The police arrived. Dead.

Do I even need to ask?

Why Are You Afraid of Me?

Lee Jenkins (@LeeJenkinsGroup) is an best-selling author, speaker, pastor, and financial expert.
Visit him at leejenkinsgroup.com or eaglesnestchurch.org

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