by Brandy Thomas
At fourteen years old, I became cognizant of the reality of crime and injustice still present in the twenty-first century. I can vividly recall the day I was jolted out of my illusion of peace. Until then, I had always considered myself untouchable. That day, like many other days, my mother worked as a nurse manager late into the evening, which rendered her unable to take me home when school let out. I got off at my usual bus stop located near my house on the Southwest side of Houston, Texas, and I decided to stop by the store on my walk home to pick up a few items. Set on getting home to start my schoolwork, I quickly exited the store with headphones in my ears, unsuspecting and untroubled. I turned up my music, softly singing along to the tunes, and I put my head down to avoid the harsh sunlight. I did not hear the police officers screaming at me nor did I see the other onlookers waving frantically for me to stop.
The next thing I knew, the front side of my body was slammed against the dirty window of the store with my arms behind my back in a painfully tight grip. My headphones were ripped out of my ears, and it was only then that I realized I was being assaulted by two police officers. The officers had only wanted to stop and ask me questions about a disturbance outside the store, but with how quickly I left the store and my “refusal to yield when called,” I ended up looking like a suspect. It turns out that the suspects they needed to have been looking for were two young men a few years older than I was. Though the officers immediately released me, I did not receive an apology for the injustice I endured.
That was not the first event of such a nature to happen in my community, and it certainly was not the last. I did not realize until much later in life that I had been desensitized to the harshness of my environment that I grew up in, which is why events like that never stuck out to me before. I went home that day in tears, but instead of feeling angry and betrayed by the law enforcers, I became determined to pursue the study of the law. I wanted to understand why the officers would feel so empowered to be so aggressive with a young, small girl. Since then, I have come to the realization that there is a disappointing amount of crime happening in communities like the one in which I grew up all over the nation. I want to become an attorney to help rehabilitate these communities and keep the streets safe from any disturbances and dangerous activities or people. I also want to properly protect people from the injustices of people who enforce the law.
Even though it was seven long years ago, I still think about this event in my life frequently. When I share this story with others, they often wonder how and why I chose to handle the situation the way I did. I am not angry with anyone nor do I have any malice in my heart towards those men or any other people like them in similar situations. My answer to those who do not understand my response is simply this: God is in control of all things, and only God is responsible for doling out true justice and reparations. This event led me to find my passion in life: Law. It lit a flame within my mind and soul. It opened my eyes to a whole world going on around me that I was not previously aware of. I know that God has called me to the field of law to do his work. For my undergraduate education, I chose to pursue a major in criminal justice. Now that I am a graduating senior, I wait to hear from one of the seven law schools I applied to. I cannot wait to see which school helps me to fulfill my mission. One by one I want to help fix the many problems in America’s legal institution, and I am so eager to work within the legal system to fight injustice and inequity for the rest of my life.