I DO BELONG HERE

By Salome Chimuku, Ainsworth UCC, Portland, OR

profiling endGrowing up in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood in Portland, there were some things that were normal and expected. Such as that you’re inside before dark, say please and thank you or even being questioned by the police. In my 23 years of living I can say that I have been stopped over 25 times in my life. None of these have led to me being arrested, but it has left me with a strong impression of being publicly incarcerated.

I say publicly incarcerated because there is a pattern to all the stops. I was somewhere they thought I shouldn’t be. “What are you doing?”, “Where are you going?”, “Where is home?” All of these questions come under the guise of keeping me safe, but in actuality it makes me feel like a soft version of incarceration and segregation. Over the years it has conditioned me into knowing where I can walk somewhat free of questioning. Even when I worked for the Oregon State Legislature, if I left work late, I would be stopped. It got to the point where I stopped traveling to those places all together.