Stories For Liberation: No Hope Of A License
By Gerson Sermeno
I’m driving down the road, starting a brand new day, ready for school, not knowing what comes ahead. I’m feeling confident in my driving skills, but still trying to do it all perfectly — always keep an eye out at every stop, never skip a red light, and respect the speed limits. I’m checking all my mirrors, with the fear of seeing a police car driving by.
And there it comes, exactly a few minutes after 7 a.m. I see the lights behind me and pull over to the side, as all my nerves are active. Again? I say from inside me. Another stop? Another ticket on my list? Another day at the court? Another $700 or more? Why? Why is he stopping me now?
And there he comes, an officer with strong steps, getting out of his car and walking down to my side. My chest is hurting with the fast beats of my heart.
It was such a perfect morning. I was driving fine. I respected all. Now, should I be afraid of even getting to school? Should I have to be scared to do something to give back to society? I sat in that car trying to understand why all of that is so hard. But, I’ll put it all together.
The police officer came to the window. And there I was, not knowing what to do.
I just asked him, “Why am I being stopped?”
But, he just answered with another question, “Where are you going?”
“I am on my way to school, officer,” I answered.
“Can I check your license and the vehicle documents?” he said.
Without saying a word, I pulled out all my vehicle documents, but there was no license to present.
And, he asked for my license again. I had no other choice but to tell him the truth.
“I have no license, sir,” I said.
“Why the fuck are you driving without a license?” he said with a strong voice.
With fear in me, I told him that it was impossible for me at the moment. And, he just said that he has “no choice,” and gave me four tickets — one for no license, and the other three I never knew why.
There I was, a kid with a government protection document, but without the hope of getting a driver’s license anytime soon, being intimidated by someone who was supposed to make me feel safe, feeling afraid of the one who had to protect me, crying inside because of someone who is supposed to make me feel calm. I was sitting down there, seeing everything I had to go through, seeing and knowing I was stopped for being brown, feeling like someone who was picked out of a pile. I was just trying to go to school, succeed, give more than what I had, but I was being stopped by a system that has no feeling for who I am.
And, the officer just took my car and left me on the street, to walk the few miles left to school. The weather was bad, and I was so cold.
Walking afraid, all my confidence that day was gone.