Endangered Species

Darren stood back, watching as his best friend did a few simple moves before he started break dancing. Ice Cube’s Amerikkka’s Most Wanted album blasted as all of their friends and other neighborhood kids gathered around and watched.

“Aaaahhhh, nigga, that shit is so fresh!”

Tyrell, Darren’s best friend, stood and caught his breath before checking to make sure he hadn’t messed up the pants his mother had just gotten for him. “Thank you, thank you. Darren, let me see what ya chump ass got.”

“Ahaha, niggas get cocky as fuck when they bust some elementary ass moves.”

“Fool, just dance.” They all looked at Alejandro and he shrugged before stepping back. He refused to get his ass again for speaking randomly.

A young nigga got it bad ‘cause I’m brown!

 

Darren quickly got the beat straight in his head, pulling his jacket off before jumping straight into his moves. Little did his friends know, he’d picked up some new skills during his most recent visit to his cousin’s in New York.

Tyrell, his sister Jessica, and the rest of their crew stood back, shocked but hype as hell. “Damn D!”

“Get that shit!!”

Walking up to the scene, Alana, pushed her way through the crowd. She began nodding her head to the beat as she watched her crush dance. Seeing that he’d caught her eye, Darren decided to show off a little.

“Ahh shit, this nigga here, just gotta show off for a female. Dance like a regular person, Nigga!”

Ricardo, another close friend, put his arms over Tyrell’s shoulder and nodded. “His moves are so fucking smooth, not a mistake made. Like fluid, you can learn a thing or two, Ty.”

“Fuck you, Tito Puente ass nigga. What Mexican you know got his hair boxed and styled like Jermaine Jackson?”

Finishing with a back flip, Darren quickly caught his breath and shook his head. “Y’all always gotta argue and fuck up the moment. I’m done.”

“Aww, bitch ass. I smoked you, end of discussion.”

Everybody looked at Tyrell and shook their heads, agreeing in unison that Darren had danced better. “Our peers have spoken, and the best has one. Still king.”

“Fuck all of y’all.”

“Bitch ass.”

A quick slap boxing session ensued before the sixteen year old friends slapped hands. “Aiight, aiight, y’all calm down. You know we got those two old couples in the hood now, and they love to call the pigs on us.”

The teens nodded understandingly. Between all of them, there were a total of at least forty false arrests, and all were certain that there’d be many more before they even reached the age of eighteen. And that was if they lived to see that age.

 

It was sad that in 1991 they were facing issues their parents and grandparents faced, but that’s just the way it was.

Tyrell walked over to his porch and everybody laughed. The crowd dispersed a little, but for the most part, the teens continued dancing and battling with one another. Once again, Darren caught sight of Alana watching him.

 

As long as they’d known one another, never had either of them said more than a hello and that was almost always in passing at school. His crush and feelings for her was something serious, although he’d never admit it. Not one to care about rejection, there was just something about her turning him down that might hurt his feelings.

“I see you finally worked on those moves.”

“Haha, yeah. Can’t be embarrassing myself out here like I did on the last day of school.”

“If it makes you feel better Darren, I thought you did just fine that day too.”

He smiled, putting his arm around her shoulder as they moved away from the crowd a little. “Listen Alana, I know you might not care but I feel like I gotta get something off my chest.”

“Alright.”

“I like you, a lot.”

“Real feelings or should I be concerned about how often you’ll mention slapping skins?”

Darren poked out his bottom lip, hoping he didn’t have that type of reputation. True that he went through girls as quickly as he changed his boxers, and it was true that he was a bit doggish and insensitive, but he’d never mistreat Alana. “They’re real. But since you brought that up, who you wearing these skintight biker shorts for?”

“Nobody. I like biker shorts.”

“With ‘poison’ airbrushed on the back?”

“Aye, not that type of poison though.”

“Oh, you a good girl.”

“Mmhm, but I can get a lil’ buck for the right person.”

“Buck wild?”

“Maybe.”

He bit down on his bottom lip and laughed. “Aiight Alana, let me stop before you think I’m only interested in sex for real. I like you, and that’s real. I’ve been feeling you for a long time, just scared that you ain’t feeling me.”

“That’s funny. I thought you weren’t feeling me. So uh, tell me what the deal is? I’m not one of these easy broads and you’re not about to attempt to play me either.”

“I couldn’t play you, but let’s talk a little.”

 

Women, they good for nothing! No, maybe one thing; to serve needs to my ding-a-ling. I’m a man who loves to one night stand, ‘cause after I do ya, ha, I never knew ya.

Tyrell stood up and bounced around. “This my shit!”

“Your dumb ass would like a misogynistic ass song like this!”

“Pipe down Jessica! Ain’t nobody tryna hear that feminist shit, it’s enough this chick calls herself rapping on Cube’s song.”

Alana and Darren shook their heads before going back to their own conversation.

 

 

Sitting at the end of the block, in an unmarked car, a newly instated police officer by the name of Corey Swinton sat back and watched what he thought to be the beginning stage of a fight. A group of black and Hispanic teens standing in one spot, bumping against and being pushed back by one another; the sight alone pissed him off. He watched as one in specific jumped up and down, hollering with some ghetto girl. Even with his windows rolled up, he could hear the different arguments going on.

My shoes are tighter than yours this and I bet my team fuck over your team that. Bets were being made, girls stating that they weren’t hoes that could be played. You are a bitch this and I ain’t no bitch that.

It tickled Corey so much that blacks and Hispanics talked so much noise about needing and wanting equal education, but they still refused to use what they learned. “Just wasting good money and resources that could go to white individuals like myself.”

They were loud, so loud, and loud for no reason. This particular neighborhood of Baton Rouge, it was one strictly for the poor and the way these kids acted, they sure lived up to the stereotype.

Ghetto. Loud. Disorderly.

 

He continued watching as the kids ‘fought’, finally getting enough when he noticed two girls fighting one another as a group of boys stood back and watched, hooping and hollering. He grabbed his badge from his glove compartment and checked to make sure he had his gun on him.

He didn’t want to be injured. “Gotta stay prepared for these monkeys and spics.”

 

 

Darren laughed, giving Alana a tight hug after they came to an agreement of sorts. Just as he was about to lean in for a small kiss, he noticed a heavy set white man walking towards them. He was dressed in normal clothing, but Darren knew a cop anywhere.

The way he walked said it all. “Aye y’all, somebody called the pigs.”

Each and every one of the teens paused, staring quietly as the cop walked towards them. “The hell do you all think you’re doing by rioting in the middle of a street? Don’t you know that people live in these houses?”

Tyrell, not in the mood for a third altercation this week sighed and shook his head. “We live in these houses, this one happens to be mine. And if you don’t mind, Officer, my mama doesn’t like strangers near, in, or around her house.”

“Boy, I didn’t ask you a damn thing.”

 

They all took deep breaths. Alejandro and Ricardo started pulling out their pockets, getting into a search position because they knew they’d be patted down first. Darren cleared his throat. “Look Man, we’re not doing anything but dancing and talking. We do this every day. We aren’t bothering anybody and our parents know where we are.”

“Figures they wouldn’t be able to keep control.”

“Motherfucker, what?”

Jessica quickly pulled Tyrell back, reminding him that there were many in the juvenile detention center and city prison waiting for the chance to fight or attempt to kill him. “Chill out Ty, it ain’t worth it.”

Tyrell kept a scowl on his face and his eyes on the officer.

Darren sighed. “Look, you can’t even harass us Bruh, you’re not in uniform.”

“Boy, I am NOT your brother! You’re nothing!”

 

The teens began yelling, shocking and scaring Corey. When Darren stepped towards him, he made the quick decision to pull his gun. “Stand back you fucking monkey!”

“Whoa! Bruh, we didn’t even do anything to you! You came over here fucking with us and you wanna call me a monkey?! Dude, don’t you know it’s some real motherfucking cop killers out here?”

“Ohhh, you’re bad enough to make threats huh?” Corey cocked his gun, holding his finger over the trigger as he waited for the young boy to make the wrong move.

 

Alana, horrified since she’d never experienced anything like this first hand, grabbed Darren’s arm, trying to pull him back. “Come on D, leave it alone.”

“Nah, I’m tired of them coming into our neighborhood and fucking with us. They get mad when we don’t go to school and wanna rough us up, call us truants and shit. But when we do go, they don’t believe we’re good enough to succeed. They get mad when we’re young and don’t want to work, but when we go out and get decent jobs, they fuck with us and break us down until we have no choice but to quit and live up to their stereotypes. We ain’t no drug dealers, so what the fuck are they searching us for?!”

“Pipe down, Boy.”

“Motherfucker, my name is not BOY. It’s Darren Jerome Thomas, and I’m somebody just like you think you are. My friends are people, human beings, not animals. And we’re sick and tired of stupid ass bastards like you and the other pigs in blue coming down here thinking you can do us in just because we’re lower than you economically!”

“Do not raise your voice at me!”

“FUCK YOU!”

Now scared, Darren’s friends pleaded for him to calm down, but he was over it. He had a total of fifteen unwarranted arrests, and double the random searches and pat downs simply because he was a black ass teen in America, in the hood at that. It wasn’t his fault that his mother had to settle for less than she wanted for herself and her kids. Their lowlife father walked out, but he was trying to do better for himself, and for his family. He was simply sick of cops trying to stop him.

 

Corey snatched Darren by his collar, letting him go as some of the other teens pushed him back from their friend. “Don’t you filthy bastards touch me!”

“Get out of our neighborhood, Pig.”

“I’m the law, and you will respect me!”

Darren chuckled. The whole situation was stupid and pointless, a cop looking for any reason to have some off-duty fun. “Respect you? What have you done to deserve respect, Pig? Hmm? Did you give a nigga a head start before you ran him down with your cop car? No wait, let me guess. You kept a straight face while asking a nigga where his or her pappy was? Ooo, I know, I know … you decided to lower your quota for the number of niggas you kill daily? How nice of you, PIG.”

Upset and embarrassed, Corey chuckled to himself before making up his mind to make an example out of Darren, the disrespectful little monkey. That was all Corey saw. He hit Darren in the face with the butt of his gun, causing him to fall back.

“What the fuck?! He ain’t doing shit to you!!”

Corey shot in the air, silencing Alana. She was about to pull Darren back but he jumped away, charging at the non-uniformed officer. “Darren, no! It’s not worth it.”

 

The two tussled for a moment. A few of the teens ran inside to get their parents. While others stood back. The only young male that jumped in to try and stop the fight was Tyrell, and that was a mistake.

Grabbing the gun he’d dropped, Corey kicked Darren back and shot him. Next he shot Tyrell and watched silently as both teens fell back. Girls yelled, the other teens began to scream and cry. Outraged and mortified by the sound of gunshots in their neighborhood, once again, every adult that happened to be home ran outside. The sight that awaited them was one of pure horror.

Two black teens, shot and bleeding, crying as more teens tried to help them. One black cop inching away from the scene with a satisfied look on his face.

“Lord Jesus.” That was the only thing any of the adults could say as both Darren’s mother and Tyrell’s mothers came running out, praying for their babies.

 

________________

 

 

Upset about the limited amount of daylight she had to work with, top reporter Janie Hightower cleared her throat as her cameraman signaled for her to go.

“Thank you Marvin. I’m Janie Hightower and just in for our bottom story of the afternoon, I’m here at the scene in South Baton Rouge where two men were shot by another man witnesses are claiming was an off duty police officer. It’s been about five hours since the incident, and as reports keep rolling in, it seems that some are having trouble understanding what exactly happened today. According to some, there was a large group of African American and Hispanic men and women standing in the middle of the street, fighting and rioting. They were approached by the suspect in question and…”

 

Alana, stood back, watching in disbelieve. Wanting to become a journalist herself, she could hardly believe that another woman of color would look at this situation as if it were anything other than wrong.

It became clear quickly, the more she listened to the way the reporter spoke that she was a self-hating black woman. “Alana.”

She turned to see Jessica with tears running down her face. “How are they?”

“My brother’s gone, they’re both gone.”

“No. No!”

 

“This just in, we’ve received word that unfortunately, neither of the men who were shot survived their wounds.” Alana turned, entirely fed up. Walking directly into the shot, she grabbed the reporter’s microphone. “Excuse me, what do you think you’re doing? Aside from ruining a live broadcast.”

“Listen here Bitch, I’m about to help you get the facts straight. Darren Thomas and Tyrell Hawkins were NOT men. They were sixteen year old boys. This man that they ‘claim’ was breaking up a ‘fight’, he wasn’t. He was a off-duty cop, in an unmarked car, that came to fuck with a group of black and Hispanic kids. We’re all teenagers!”

“That’s enough, little girl.”

“No it’s not! You will not brush this off as some type crime between adults. A grown ass man killed two teenage boys for nothing! They were dancing, dancing! Harassed by a WHITE man who was looking for a little fun by messing with the NIGGAS in the hood. We ain’t shit to them, MONKEYS, and you up here kissing ass for a high paid position. You’re just as much of a nigga as we are, and if it were you, you’d want respect and justice too! The only thing Darren did was speak up for the shit we go through. Random searches, arrests just because we’ve got brown and black skin. Disrespect because some of us don’t have fathers, berating us because we’re in low income housing, but we’re here because they can’t stand to give us a chance and see us do well!”

 

Little did Alana know, an entire city of individuals were watching and hanging on to her every word. “And Tyrell, he was shot for trying to put a stop to the fight that happened AFTER this WHITE man hit Darren in the face with his gun for no damn reason! We weren’t doing anything but standing around, laughing, talking, and being BLACK and Hispanic! Y’all ain’t gotta listen though, ‘cause I already know this case is going to end the wrong way. Mr. Officer will get the top lawyer in the state, maybe in the country, and he’ll plead self defense. A bunch of black and Hispanic kids, monkeys and spics, ganged up on him as he came to exercise his duty of ‘serving’ and ‘protecting’, they attacked him so he defended himself. The two ‘men’ that died were simple causalities. The two ‘men’ who died will be put on trial, slandered, and misjudged because of their surroundings. FUCK THAT. We in the hood know the truth. Two honor students, number two and number four in their class, top five… MURDERED, just because they were black and spoke their mind.” Wiping her eyes, Alana threw the microphone back at the reporter before walking off.

“Wait!”

“What?”

Janie cleared her throat, trying to stay professional and save face. “What do you think will happen as the case progresses, once evidence comes to light?”

“Evidence? You’re funny. There are over twenty witness, ain’t none of us getting interviewed. Mr. Officer’s getting a raise for keeping the number of niggas down, you know Sista, we make good game for hunters in these streets, right at the top of the nation’s endangered species list. BLACKS, black teens are number two. If we ain’t killing ourselves, the cops are doing it for us. Welcome to the dark side of the hood, SISTA.”

Alana finally walked off, running back across the street to console Darren and Tyrell’s mothers.

 

Sadly, this would be forgotten by the end of the week. Just another day in the hood.

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