The Real Marin City


(Benjy Wall-Feng)

By Wanya Williams

Whenever I walk in to Burger King to buy my daily 10-piece chicken nuggets, it seems like there is always a little white kid breaking his neck just to look at me. Should this make me feel special or concerned for the kid? Younger Marin white kids tend to look at me because of the dark color of my skin. They are often too young and isolated to know that there are black people in this world.
For black people, like me from Marin City, it is common to get stared at by people of any other race when they go somewhere other than a black community. Walking around Mill Valley makes me feel like I have a huge zit on my forehead, but maybe they are just looking at my curly hair. I hate being stared at. It makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. I consider myself a good kid. I can’t stand to be looked at like I did something wrong that I did not do, so please do not stare at me. I am not one those violent Marin City men the Marin IJ seems to love writing about.
The reason behind all of this is racial profiling: the use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed an offense. I feel disrespected when people of other races look at me in fear. Why would someone be scared of me if they’ve never met me?
Whenever I have a conversation with my white friends, we often talk about how scared they are to come to Marin City. I remind them everyday, “Marin City is not what you think it is.” When they act scared of where I live it makes me feel like they’re racially profiling all of Marin City.
Why should they be scared of Marin City? People think that in every black community people rob, fight, and shoot guns. Some people in Marin City do that, but some people in Mill Valley do those things too. In Mill Valley there are drug users and sellers, just like in Marin City. Not every black person does bad things.
Marin City never gets credit for the good things that are happening in the community. Marin City has a lot of programs and activities for our people so we can stay out of trouble and do the right thing. Bridge The Gap College Prep is a tutoring center for student from 3rd grade to 12th grade. The Recreation Center is a place where people from all ages can play basketball, box, work out, and participate in after school activities.
Instead, there are headlines in the IJ that local black kids in Marin City have either robbed or shot someone. It would be helpful to recognize the community for our accomplishments, like the opening of our new skate park and playground.
People should experience the real Marin City instead of guessing what it is based on what they read or hear. It is easy to stare at a TV set and criticize a community. It would make more sense to come to the community and see for yourself. Crimes are not constantly committed in Marin City.
The Marin IJ creates an idea of Marin City and of young black men, and people are lazy so they just accept these ideas. I understand that because you are not black some black people in Marin City may not socially accept you, but it’s the same thing with a black person not being socially accepted by a white person. If you would just spend time in Marin City you would understand how nice the place and people are.
Just like some white people are scared to visit Marin City, I’m worried to walk in a white neighborhood. I’m scared because I know that my clothes and skin too might make people suspect something about me and it could lead to a consequence I would not deserve. We’ve seen on the news what can happen when a boy of my color gets stopped by a white police officer. It should not be a crime to walk around in a white neighborhood while being black.
Being looked at like a criminal can hurt, especially knowing that you are a good person. Racial profiling is an ignorant way to see people. Sometimes I wonder if that would ever be me one day on the news pronounced dead by being killed by a white police officer. Thinking about it just makes me sad to the point where I want to cry, because it’s unreal how we have to be on our toes. The color of my skin should not determine the way you see me.
Mill Valley people should come to Marin City more often to witness how the community really is. It would be a good experience to go through. The more you come the less fear you will have about Marin City.