by Fatimah Bakr
I have lived in Rocky Mount, NC, for many years. Black people are still stereotyped
every day. The signs of racism will not go away. You'll shop in some stores and stores
you don't shop in due to racist attitudes. Sometimes you will run into a white cashier;
you give them your money, then when it is time to get your change, they'll put it on the
counter or let it fall to the counter.
I'll make a statement like, "did I give you my money that way?" Then I have to pick up
my change off the counter. Another common scenario is when you are in a store looking
around as a Black woman, you will be followed and asked if you need any help. I've
worked in retail; we'd ask patrons if they need help as soon as they enter the store, not
after they've been followed around the store.
This is not the only racial discrimination faced by People of Color in Rocky Mt. NC. I
continue to see that Caucasian people don’t like seeing Black people drive through their
neighborhoods. In addition, we have to deal with the police stopping Black people for
minor things. The threat of police brutality and injustice keeps people in fear in the Black
A young mother was stopped for speeding while driving her daughters to daycare.
Although the officer told her not to get out of her car, she said to the officer, "that she was
letting her girls out to go in the building and tell the teacher to record what was taking
place," The officer then threw her on the ground, causing her hair to be scraped off of her
scalp, she also had a few bruises and skin scraps on different parts of her body.
I consider this police brutality and violence against women. But, unfortunately, I continue
to see white officers use aggressive policing to put fear in Women of Color in Rocky Mount.
I have asked a few people about the racism they see In Rocky Mount, but they continue to
be fearful and reluctant to speak up.
The main thing I don’t like to see as a citizen of Rocky Mount is a Black man being stopped
for something routine, and then within a few minutes, there will be as many as 5 police cars
who'll arrive at the traffic stop. It's very intimidating to see that many police officers show up
for 1 or 2 individuals. There's always the potential for another innocent, unarmed Black
person to get killed.
I'm a concerned citizen; I belong to an organization located in Raleigh, NC, with ties to
Rocky Mt. called Muslims for Social Justice; they teach that concerned citizens have the
power to stand up to any injustice by uniting and organizing to change the balance of power
in situations like these, by speaking out as a united group of citizens to demand the police
change their tactics and policies, and how they interact with the Black and Brown Community.
This is also why groups like Refund Raleigh were formed and are calling for defunding police
abuse and killing of Black citizens, and putting that money to better use providing more
resources to Communities of Color. All I can do at this time of need is to pray for my people.
I pray we will continue to organize and abolish racism and all forms of oppression in this