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For Memorial Day weekend, my best friend and I took a small road trip to Mobile, Alabama. We made a few stops a long the way (Wallace, Lousiana for the Whitney Plantation tour, a definite must see and Biloxi, Mississippi for dinner and pretend gambling at the Casino.) Our final destination was to see K.Michelle at the Mobile Civic Center in Alabama. It was a pretty last minute trip by our standards, we usually plan and obsess for months before heading somewhere, even domestically, but we planned this trip in about 2 weeks, just so we wouldn’t be home on our three day weekend.

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The trip started off great. Even though we left Houston,  almost three hours behind schedule, we made it to the final tour of the day at Whitney Plantation. That 90 minute tour changed my life, and left me feeling a wide array of emotions.  Walking around the huge plantation, I put myself into the shoes of slaves who had walked there before me. It was so hot. I was sweating. There were mosquitoes. It got cloudy. It started to sprinkle. It was a hard day, and I wasn’t even carrying the giant cast iron bowls full of sugar cane. I looked at the beds they were supposed to rest on at night and couldn’t imagine getting a good night’s rest there. At the end of the tour, we walked back from the big house as the tour guide spoke about sharecropping and how so many individuals were still in a form of enslavement after the  Emancipation and some who stayed on plantations well into the late 1980’s. It was all too much. But I needed to be there. And I’m glad I was able to experience it.

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After the tour, we took a potty break and headed to Mississippi. We stopped by the casino and were underwhelmed. I guess we just aren’t casino people…at least outside of Vegas. Something about seeing people lose money, smoking and coughing up their lungs, and being wheeled around with an oxygen tank AND still smoking is just not my thing. We were there for a short period of time and then took the 30 minute drive to Alabama. We arrived at almost 11 p.m. at night. Tired, but excited for our next day.  We spoke about how we hadn’t encountered anything racist while driving through these notoriously racist states, little did we know, the next day  would be much different.

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We woke up, got dressed and ate breakfast at the hotel. It was hot out, so we wore cute summery outfits. I wore an black dress with cut outs and sandals, and Paige had a cute white romper with a floral headband. We were too cute. We arrived to the winery in Perdido, Alabama and it was closed. I kind of told Paige that it would be closed because it was a Sunday, but their website said open everyday, so we went anyway. We had driven 25 minutes outside of Mobile and decided that we weren’t going to accept  failure and decided to head to the beach. Apparently, the beaches in Alabama are nice. I wish I could have found out for myself. No less than than a minute after exiting the winery lot, we were pulled over by a Baldwin County Sheriff for “speeding.” My stomach instantly sunk. Paige hadn’t even driven a mile and
had barely picked up speed after exiting the vineyard, so to say that she was doubling the speed limit, didn’t even make sense.

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The sheriff, came to Paige’s window and asked for her ID and insurance and then came to my window to ask for mine as well. I’ve never had to give my ID when not being pulled over, but I gave it to him anyway. He asked for our rental car paperwork and I’ve never seen an office examine the papers so intently. He then went back to his car. 20 minutes later, I told Paige, it really doesn’t take this long for someone to write a ticket. She agreed. Then we both saw a second officer pull up. We just knew it wasn’t going to be good. He asked Paige to step out of the car and she did. They talked to her for about 10 minutes. I saw one of them laughing while speaking to her and then another pointed to the car and started asking who I was and how she knew me. I was just about to pull out my phone and record this foolery when one of them came to my door and asked me to step out of the car. I did.

 

Unlike, how he and his partner, spoke to Paige, he spoke to me in an entirely different manner.  (They were most likely doing this be nice to one, mean to the other thing, so if there was something to tell, we would be upset with each other and spill the beans.) His voice was rough and he said something of the following, “I’m going to tell you what this looks like. We have a lot of y’all coming up her from Texas in rental cars dropping drugs off a the trap house then leaving the next day. Do you know anything about that?” I politely informed him that I have never seen or been to a trap house in my entire life.  Not believing me, he asked me what I did for a living,  where we were staying, and what we had been doing.  He hinted several times at thinking I was a stripper and kept coming back to the drug questions as if he were trying to catch me in a lie. As politely as I could through my anger, I told him where I worked, where we were staying, and even told him that he could call and verify since I was staying on an employee discount. I’m almost certain he called the hotel to verify. Based on the questions he asked Paige, I feel like He had also googled our home addresses to see how far away from each other we lived–so I wouldn’t put anything past him.  I also told him of our road trip and our time at the Whitney Plantation.  I also informed him that I have never touched drugs a day in my life, not to try and defintely not to sell or transport. Feeling uncomfortable, he informed me that Paige had given him the permission to search the vehicle. So I just stepped back next to Paige and we stood in the sun for almost an hour while he searched a nearly empty car.

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He dug in the glove compartment, nothing there but rental paperwork. He looked under the seats, nothing there. He looked in the trunk, nothing there but my smelly Converse. He lifted up the spare tire, nothing was there. He went back into the car and dumped out my purse. He emerged from the car with a bottle of pills. He really wanted this to be something. He asked me who Sparkle was and his partner said, “sounds like a stripper to me”. I informed him that if he’d actually read the bottle, you’d see that this was a canine prescription for my dog and that my name was in smaller print under the directions. He closed the trunk and car doors and walked back over to us. Him and his partner looked weird and creepy with their chewing tobacco filled mouths. They then started talking to us as if they hadn’t embarrassed us and made us stand on the side of the road in beach clothes while they searched the car. I guess they were attempting to talk “black” and that really pissed me off.  They were cussing and trying to figure out our plans for the rest of our evening. Finally, they told us we were free to go. No ticket. No warning. Nothing but a rude remark telling me to shave my legs. 

 

We couldn’t even make it to the beach, we were so shaken up and disturbed. Although, Paige and I are two of the most upstanding citizens, we were so scared that we didn’t even get any identifying information about the officers. We just headed back to the hotel in silence. I literally cried the whole way there. Not a big ugly Kim K cry, but a silent cry, as I reflected on just how far we as African Americans have come.

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We stayed in the room for the remainder of the day until it was time for the K.Michelle concert. We took an Uber there and had a few drinks for our nerves before we went. Everyone was super fun inside of the concert, except for the white couple who tried to steal our seats. She was ridiculously late, sang maybe 5 or 6 songs, and then was really awkward and stand offish in the meet an greet. I’m still a fan of hers because I really didn’t expect anything different (except some more songs) but I can’t say the same for Paige. (Lol)

Anyway, we were able to make it home in one piece. Our drive back to Texas was long and uneventful. I learned a lot on that weekend trip. I now know a small portion of how how slaves felt every day the woke up on a plantation. I  now know how black people in racist places are so accustomed to the racism, that they don’t even know it exist.  I now know how it feels to work so hard to be the best you can be and still be treated poorly just because of how you look. I now know why people are so terrified when police pull them over. I now know how it feels to be treated like a criminal when you’ve done nothing wrong. I now know what I will do and how I will act should I be pulled over again. I now know that I will never step my black behind anywhere near the state of Alabama.

I know a lot now.

 

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