I’m A Black Cellist Who Had The Police Called On Me For Practicing In My Apartment Building

Dear white people, stop calling the police on Black people for no good reason.

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| March 13 2019,

5:28 pm

To me, it's not so much that white people are afraid of Black people, but more about the power dynamics. I couldn’t help but feel powerless when my white neighbor threatened to call the police on me. I couldn’t help but wonder if they wished me harm or for the police to end up killing me.

This story is not about making me seem completely blameless or innocent, but the police are not for every minor inconvenience. They are for emergencies. Theft or physical and sexual assault — not for someone playing the cello in their apartment.

I also wouldn't consider myself to be intimidating. I’m five feet tall, often wear bright colors and rarely swear. But I can’t escape my Black skin, no matter what.

I’ve never had anyone complain about noise in previous apartments I lived in, but here in my new building, I guess the walls are thinner. Once I was dancing late at night, not thinking anything of it since I’ve done this before in other places. The neighbor below my apartment reported me to the office. After that, I stopped dancing at night and kept it only in the late morning or early afternoon. Still, it wasn’t enough.

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The woman who reported me stopped my mom one day and told her she would call the police if I didn’t stop dancing. I get that it can be annoying for someone to bang the floor above you, but when you live in an apartment. You cannot dictate what someone does above you in the middle of the day.

Surprisingly, she never actually called about the dancing, but someone did call the police on me for playing my cello. I just graduated with a degree in cello performance and I feel it is my life’s purpose. There’s a storage room in the building, so I went there to practice my cello one night, thinking I wouldn't disturb her. But suddenly, the police barged in while I was playing.

I do not know for sure if it was her who called, but that experience definitely shook me up. I live in the suburbs of Chicago and often hear about profiling in the inner city, but I’ve never had a problem with the police before. I guess it's the same feeling every Black person who has been called the “n” word felt. Realizing I'll never be safe, emotionally or physically, in my Black body is a daunting reality.

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