To The Cop That Asked Me Who I Was

Unfortunately, we live in a world that's horrific for people who look like me.

Black woman in front of cop car Pexels and MattGush / Getty Images via Canva

By Larissa Martin

To The Cop Who Said, “Who Is She to You?”:

April 26, 2021 was an unforgettable day. It was my best friend’s birthday, but it was the night of the joint birthday celebration we had been planning for a while. We were excited because we hadn’t seen each other in about 6 months due to the pandemic and were on our way back to my house.

We were having a conversation about how I don’t like interacting with police officers. It makes me nervous because I’m biracial, and people of color don’t have a good history with police confrontations.


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I said that I feared any interaction from an officer; even a smile since a police presence could potentially turn into a dangerous situation for me. My friend, who’s white, replied that he couldn’t fathom living in fear of the police.


Unfortunately, though, we live in a world that's horrific for people who look like me.

Just five minutes from my house, a cop pulled us over. He asked my friend for his license and registration, just like any normal stop.

During this interaction, I remained silent. At one point, though, the police officer shined his light in my face and asked my friend, “Who is she to you?” My friend replied, “She’s my friend, and I’m just taking her home.”

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We sat there for what felt like forever, but finally, we were able to leave. Apparently, the police pulled my friend over because he had a taillight out. Luckily, the officer let my friend off with a warning, and nothing more came of it.


However, this interaction with the police still sticks in my mind almost two years later.

I have a feeling that the reason why the cop decided to shine his light in my face and ask my friend who I was is that he viewed me as a suspicious person because of my skin color.

I also can pretty much guarantee that he didn’t really care about the answer to the question he asked my friend. It felt like he was targeting me for no good reason.

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The cop didn’t know that I’m a best friend — the best friend of the man he pulled over. I’m also a sister, a daughter, an aunt, and a niece. I’m an advocate and a writer too.


I also happen to be biracial, but while that’s the first thing the cop probably saw about me, it doesn’t make me dangerous. I’m just trying to exist and live the best life that I can, but even though I’m happy with my life, people like him make it more difficult.

I hope that when other police officers ask people of color questions, they’ll take a moment to reflect on how their words and actions may come across.

As people of color, we live our day-to-day lives without a hidden agenda. We’re not threatening. We’re kind, caring human beings, but we’re over the stereotypes about who we are and how we are seen by police officers. They treat us differently because we’re people of color.


At the very least, it’s harmful, but at its most extreme, being singled out can cost us our lives.

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Larissa Martin is a writer whose work has been featured on MSN, Yahoo Lifestyle, Thrive Global, Unwritten, YourTango, and The Mighty.