Defending Our Self-Worth
Gloria Brown, 49, is a student at DeVry University in the Keller Graduate School of Management. When a police officer approached her on the train and asked that she prove her bag belonged to her she made sure to let him know she was a good student and in school.
“I told him [I was in school] so that he would know that I was not a thug. Because when you have on a face mask to protect your face from the cold and a beanie hat and a do-rag you are labeled a thug. I wanted him to know I am a black person that is doing something positive.”
This article is long overdue. But I owe it to Gloria to share because her voice deserves to heard.
On January 28th, 2014, Gloria Brown got on the Metra, sitting directly in front of me. Moments into the ride a tall white man approached Gloria’s seat, glancing at her with the type of suspicion that makes any POC’s skin crawl with annoyance. He proceeded to stare at her belongings as he stood right above her. Feeling threatened by his actions Gloria asked what he was doing which caused an arguing match between the two. He accused her of taking his belongings and even reached for her bag. When Gloria asked for help from the conductor he told them both ‘it takes two to tangle and for her to shut up and sit down or they’ll both get thrown off the train’. Gloria sat down but the white man continued to berate her and call her ghetto.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I hear someone use the term ghetto towards a black person I get a bit of rage inside of me. I feel they are trying to use the term as an insult. I told him to go sit down and he proceeded to tell me to shut the f**k up…but it’s cool…I let that slide.
After about 15 minutes a police officer approached Gloria’s seat and asked that she prove the bag belonged to her.
“I felt like I was being robbed of my self-worth, it felt like being stripped searched with my clothes on… That was one of the worse feelings I have ever experienced having to prove that my stuff is mine. I have never been through anything like this ever, even when I think about it now; I just start crying because I am still trying to figure out why this happened to me when I was just trying to protect myself.”
I could not believe people were just sitting around watching Gloria get harassed by this man and then approached by a police officer. If you see racial profiling and unjust treatment happening SPEAK UP. Be the voice everyone else is afraid to be. I asked the police officer if this was racial profiling because she was harassed by this man and is still being labeled the suspect. The officer told me to stay out of it or I could get arrested. (Believe me I did not stay out of it).
“HELLO?? I know you all saw this man verbally attack her.” I thought to myself.
I was disgusted that this black officer told her she could have ‘just put her things in the bag’ and he needed more proof. After Gloria proved the bag was hers the officer apologized. They took the white man off the train and left Gloria’s side as if nothing happened. Gloria sat there startled, shaking and crying from the incident. I went over to console her and another young black man sent some words of support her way. The conductor apologized to Gloria stating he was just following protocol.
“I hate that it happened, I don’t know if I will ever get over this traumatic experience.”
Gloria recently filed a complaint but has not heard anything back.
Thoughts on the incident? Let us know below.