Numbered and Barred
This issue of being racially profiled and being judged at first glance, often frightening to me as I deal with this on a daily basis whether it's in the institutionalized setting or out in public. Since I was a student at Maine College of art for two years; I have been pulled over 4 times by law enforcement being accused of looking "suspicious" and criticized for being a minority from Chicago.
It saddens me that I was unable to sign out space for the school to view it due to availability as I think it's important for everyone to acknowledge. This is often a subject that is often blurred and hidden to keep the grass green on the other side but, not realizing how hard it is for people of color to coexist in the same spaces. Realizing how the tonality of the skin can make sunny days, dark cloudy with bloodshed tears.
The following testimonies are from male students of color at Maine College Of Art. These statements are about racial experiences that an individual had encountered in Portland while attending MECA.
This is a live performance piece, I did for my final exam in my experimental photography class. It demonstrates a fictional act of being myself incarcerated, and being placed into a systematic racist system in the Department of Correction's system. I act as If I'm being pushed around to imitate the act of being pushed by an officer.
I had constructed a crime board as If it was a detective's office to further the dialogue. "X" ing out portraits of those who already have fallen and submitted to the system.
I was smoking at night with my friend in the 380 parking lot before we rented the space and a police SUV was watching ya so we decided to leave. We walked a block and he went home and I kept walking A blaring light was put on me and I ignored it and kept walking. Then a police SUV swerved into the wrong lane and he hopped out the car with his hand on his gun and told me to go back. When I went back two police SUVs and five officers surround me and my friend some of them with their guns out and asked us all the details of our MECA schedules to prove that we were students and then checked us for warrants and yelled at me for being upset because “we don’t discriminate in Portland Maine” -0094514
Last year and I was walking down to S&F around 9:45ish for RA duties, walking across the street minding my business. A cop pulls up asking me “what are you doing down here?”. I’m walking and it’s cold so my hands are in my pocket. Officer said, “Please take your hands out your pocket, to make sure everything is safe…”. I had to give them my student ID and I continue to explain why I was down there. I told him that it was my job as an RA to be down there… They asked me where I lived and I told them and they continue to ask “why am I doing down here late at night”. I replied, “I’m just doing my job as an RA, walking to S&F just trying to do my rounds”. After that, it was basically over and they left me alone, but it frustrates me that I had to stop on my walk from doing my job. This is Preble Street but, the fact that they just to just pull over for one specific person is just mind bottling to me... -0096143
I walk walking back from S&F the other week and some old white dude, came up to me smoking a joint. He said “I’m a Russian spy” “I’m like n***a what the fuck are you talking about”. I’m just trying to talk home its 11:30 at night. I kinda got a little rowdy and asked “whatchu want!?”, the guy seemed to be under the influence. We started walking out separate ways and he yells at the top of his lungs “You're a fucking nigger!”. I replied with “N***a what did you just call me!? I ain't even African-American dog… like does that even work!”. He was just making that claim based on the way I dress, haircut and jewelry I was wearing. He said, “ it’s just a joke”. -0096836
The first time I was jogging, and they shined a spotlight on me. I just kept walking and then they violently pulled over in the crosswalk in front of me. “Come here!” “Show me your hands!” I had my hands in my pocket my hands were cold as shit. The other officer just has his hands on his hip the entire time. “Show me your identification. What are your doing out here tonight?” “What does it look like I’m doing bro. I’m jogging to eastern prom and back to the school” He said “ Doesn't look like your jogging to me, looks like your running away from something. You look pretty spacious out tonight.” I was wearing mostly dark clothes with a backpack so I kinda get it but nooo. I show them my Illinois id first then my MECA ID, he looks at it “what is a Chicago person like you doing here in Portland Maine are you taking advantage of our good citizens? What are you doing?” I replied “I go to school at MECA” I hand them my id and they think it’s photoshop due to all the scratches. At this point I’m starting to get heated, then they asked to check my backpack. They literally threw all my stuff on the ground, no damages to my stuff lucky but, I really started to get angry. “Since you have an attitude we can put you in handcuffs in the back of the car until we sort this all out” I apologize then they hand me back my stuff. They asked “do you have an alibi? You seem to match the description of something that happened earlier.” I replied, “How the fuck does I match the description literally my face if different than anyone in this country!” So I called a person and they spoke for me and they released me. “I don't think it’s safe out here for you tonight” I didn’t even ask questions, I just ran home… -0099679
My experience in Portland has been a significant culture shock. I was unable to approach people of color that I identified with because most POC's were already acclimated to a 'white' mentality. Often they were oblivious to subtle race related interjections in conversations. I have been told by white students that I appear to be "hyper-masculine" and or "threatening" based on my demeanor and appearance. I have taken precautions by refraining from social interactions and keeping to myself which I know gets people even more suspicious of me. -0096486