I’ve never been spit on and had rocks thrown at me at age 15, like Dorothy Counts. I’ve never felt the need to sit at a lunch counter to make a statement about my lack of human rights, like the Greensboro 4. I’ve never been sprayed with a fire hose when I went out for a peaceful march. My house was never bombed simply for the color of my skin. I’ve never been forced to sit in the back of the bus. I’ve never had to look at a statue at the intersection of two American streets, and think: “That man would have used me as a slave.”
I’ve never felt the need to stay out of the sun because, as my friend Javon said, “I’d get too black.” I’ve never felt the need to lie on my resume about my first name, like Shanice did, listing her name as Sarah, for a better chance of getting an interview.
I never felt the need to hide, like Will, when a police car rolled down his street, when we were just young boys outside throwing a football. I never got nervous when “Officer Friendly,” visited our elementary school for show-and-tell.
Playing with a toy gun never led to me dying under a park gazebo, at age 12, like Tamir. I’ve never thought walking back from a 7-11, like Trayvon, with Skittles and an iced tea, would lead to me being shot and killed. I’ve never though that the guy that killed me would walk free.
I’ve never been asked to “please step out of the vehicle,” like many Black Air Force officers I served with have. I’ve never been put in handcuffs or had my car searched for no reason.
I’ve never had a knee on my neck for nine minutes as I cried out for my mama, like George Floyd. I’ve never thought, while going for a run, that two men would hop out of a truck and murder me in the middle of the street like they murdered Ahmaud.
I’ve never felt like I needed to put my hands at 10 and 2 on the wheel when the officer walks up. I’ve never felt like I might get killed during a routine traffic stop. I’ve never felt the need to drive to a well-lit area when getting pulled over by blue lights. I’ve never felt like I needed to put my arms out of the window of my car like Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario. I’ve never been scared that reaching for my seat belt might get me killed.
I’ve never wished that I was Black like many of my Black friend’s told me they wished that they were white. I don’t think about my race very often, but many of my Black friends have told me they are constantly aware that they are Black. I used to never think about it, their plight, but now I do.
I’ve had the luxury of “I’ve never,” all of my life. Many of you have too. Let’s be aware of the “I’ve never,” and understand that many can’t say the same thing.
Jason Gallimore served as an Air Force captain and now works in the renewable energy industry. Follow him on Twitter @jasongallimore or email him at email@example.com.