The pain will never end for Delaware State players.  I have been there too.

The pain will never end for Delaware State players. I have been there too.

At first, Pamela Jenkins, head coach of the women’s lacrosse at Delaware State University, was not upset when her team bus was pulled by Georgia sheriff’s deputies.

His team, representing about 70% black and historically black college with its roots dating back to the 1890s, was enjoying a trip home after playing in a tournament in Florida. There was nothing wrong with that. The team’s chartered bus was not speeding as it was heading north on Interstate 95. This came to light when he heard a deputy telling the driver that he had a bus in the left lane and needed to go to the right.

But it wasn’t long before the mood changed to something that seemed quite familiar – a mood I could relate to as an African American who once played college sports and played professional tennis. Georgia’s inter-states were watered down while competing in the lower tier.

Jenkins’ team was suddenly charged with possession of drugs on board. More delegates arrived. The sniffing dog is dizzy. Jenkins, who is black, shared the emotions of his players: shock, fear, anger and frustration.

Credit …Via youtube

Video footage, which contradicts the Liberty County Sheriff’s Stop account, shows a group of white deputies carrying rifles through their luggage. One of them took a package and asked whose it was. When the player replied that it belonged to him and he did not know what was inside because it was a gift from the family, the deputy met him with a look of suspicion. Jenkins said the deputy found nothing but a box of jewelry inside.

“I’m sitting there, and I’m trying to stay calm, but at the moment, I’m very upset and scared and frustrated with what is happening to us,” Jenkins said in a phone interview on April 20 about the incident. I said. Week

“Unfortunately, this situation could escalate,” he said. And then it can be the worst. So he guided by example and wrapped up his stress. His players followed him.

The deputies did not receive any drugs. The driver – who, surprisingly, was black – did not get a traffic signal. An officer got on the plane and said the team could go.

Think about what happened to them.

Think of all the black players who pass through the United States for competitions, from youth basketball and soccer teams to college players. Some travel alone. With some teams. In some small groups. If you think the fear of such competitions is not part of the mix, think again.

I have my own stories. If you’ve been reading my columns for a while, you’ll know that I was once a serious tennis player, one of the few black juniors ranked nationally in the 1980’s – University of California. , Starter of a top class team in Berkeley. After college, I played for a few years in small professional tennis leagues, traveling to every corner of America and the good parts of the world.

I was identified by the police after playing in one of these tournaments in the early 1990’s, when another black player and I made it to the doubles finals at an All White Country Club in Birmingham, Ella. The members of the club – and all the staff at the Black Grounds who cheered us on every match – will be the mother of all little things. We lost, but we were happy. We made a statement as far as we could go.

But as we drove for the next event in Augusta, Ga, we were pulled over by a rural highway patrolman between Birmingham and Atlanta. I remember her wide-brimmed hat and her aggressive question. What were we doing in this car? Where were we going The next thing I knew he was looking through our bags.

Why were we dragged and searched? My partner was driving well in the flow of traffic. We were just two young blacks in a shiny rent. It didn’t help when the patrolman asked for our identities and saw that we were from California.

It’s been three decades, so I don’t remember all the details of what happened next, but somehow, the deputy took my colleague to the local, small town police station. About an hour later, my partner walked out. As far as I can remember, he didn’t get that many tickets. He was helpless but shaken. I drove the rest of the way.

This was not the only time I was profiled on the surface of the tennis base during my short time. The worst example in Europe came in 1992, when I moved from Paris to London after playing in France. At London’s Heathrow Airport, customs officers pulled me out of the line and started asking sharp questions.

He asked harshly and bluntly why I was playing tennis in Europe. Prove it, he said.

I stood helplessly beside them as they threw rifles from my tennis bags. They found clothes, a racket, and my magazine, which they read with seeming visual interest. Then they took me to a room without a window and left me there without telling me when they would return. I was not alone in this room. I was with about a dozen black travelers from African countries.

I sat for an hour, then two, then three. After eight hours of imprisonment, a guard came in and let me go. He never apologized.

Black people carry an unseen burden after such competitions. This is a shroud. Ask yourself. “What just happened? Did I do something wrong?” You struggle to understand what has just happened. Was that officer, that shopping mall security guard, that customs agent, really just doing his job? Or was it because of the color of my skin that I was treated like that?

Uncertainty is its own terror.

We are left with doubts, anger and tears. We become proficient at deepening emotions and moving forward. Or at least we try. .

And now, without their own fault, young Delaware State Lacrosse players must deal with that kind of pain.

After the stop, Jenkins said, the journey home was extraordinarily quiet and even stressful. Shock does that.

The full force of the incident did not last for days, until a player wrote a story about it in a campus newspaper and news of what happened began to spread.

“It was shocking again, it brought the whole thing back to life,” Jenkins said. And then we realized, ‘Wow, that was really bad.’

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