By Mikey Brown. RAYGUN Manager. DSM Local. Nice guy.
At 17 years old, my cousin and I were walking through an empty grocery store late at night. I had just gotten a car that my dad bought, so I was excited just to go anywhere and everywhere! We were picking up items for a late night dinner, and split up to grab things.
I stood in the ice cream aisle, with one hand on my belt loop (I was skinny, forgot a belt, and I needed to keep my pants from falling down). My other hand was holding my cell phone. I was talking with my girlfriend at the time. As I stood there, I heard in the distance, "HIM, RIGHT THERE." My stomach dropped, and my heart automatically started racing faster than I thought it could. I whipped my head towards the end of the ice cream aisle to see the grocery store clerk, pointing at me, with a police officer standing right beside him. I don't think I could have moved if I'd wanted to. I was in shock. This was happening to me, right in my own neighborhood? The police officer ran over to me, made me spread my legs, aggressively patted me down, and emptied my pockets.
All while this was happening, I made sure my girlfriend was still on the line and was listening to everything. When the officer eventually found nothing, they began to interrogate me. "Your hands were in your pockets, what was in them?!" they asked. After a second, I started tearing up and stammering over my own words. When the clerk realized that I hadn't stolen anything and was just holding my pants up with my hands, he turned to me and said, "Oh, sorry man, you just look like the type of person to steal something." The police officer left. The clerk walked away.
I was confused. I was hurt. I was genuinely scared. This was in 2009, so long before recording things with phones became a "thing." This was only MY personal experience, and it could have been worse. Way worse. From that point on I swore to myself to never let that happen to someone else if I saw it happening.
It is my black experience that makes up a lot of who I am today.
I've spent so much time thinking about this, and I wanted to say that here at RAYGUN, we believe that #BlackLivesMatter. Having the conversations that surround the topics of police brutality, racism, and injustice can often times be difficult, but they are important and necessary when recognizing the disparities black citizens face in this country.
We want to continue to work alongside the black community to uplift, support, and fight with them, not only in times of injustice, but always. RAYGUN prides itself for having such a diverse group of employees and managers, and wants any minority to feel like they have a safe place within its stores.
It is beyond crucial that we show support constantly, however and whenever those injustices are highlighted by viral news events, it becomes even more critical to speak up so situations like with Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd (to name only the most recent few) don't keep happening. It is our belief that being silently anti-racist is no longer enough. Racism is everywhere, and it lives within our own communities. We must now actively and constantly reject it, wherever we see it.
Hate never had a home in our company, and never will. And we've all committed to work to say the same for our communities.
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