Remembering Jordan Edwards: Miss Me With The Respectability Politics

When I was in high school, I had a 3.6 GPA. I had a good class ranking, captain of the football team, and vice president of my senior class. I wasn’t very vocal about these things, so when it came time to discuss plans for after high school, teachers and faculty were shocked when I announced I was going to college.

One even said, with a smirk on his face, “College? You? Are you sure?”

At the time, my 18-year-old-self knew something was off and condescending about his remarks, but couldn’t quite put my finger on why his words bothered me so much. My, now, 25-year-old-self knows exactly where this teacher’s surprise and snobbish comments came off.

Since I’ve never been the one for bullshit, I said very matter-of-factly, “Yes, college. I have a 3.6 and I’m VP of this class, and I’m already accepted.” I looked him up and down like Nikki did Sarah in Save The Last Dance and walked away.

Unbeknown to me, that one microaggression would foreshadow how society would think of me (and people that look like me) for the rest of my days on this green and blue Earth.

One look at this Black skin and I’m automatically deemed as a thug, a threat, a dummy, a rebel. No matter how hard I work or the heights I reach, Black skin to the white eye (and sometimes even the Black eye) is like an old, plastic camera – disposable.

Jordan Edwards was a 15-year-old child. He went to school, played sports, went to parties with his friends. Jordan did everything that most 15-years-olds do. Jordan had a high GPA. Jordan was “raised right.” He had both his parents. Jordan faced no disciplinary actions at school. He seemed to be well-liked by remembers of his community. His friends, friend’s parents, and school administration all had wonderful things to say about him. From the looks of it, Jordan seemed to be a great kid and was on his way to being a great young man.

Jordan did all the right things to avoid police brutality, right? I mean, after all, he wasn’t a “thug!”

The cop, just like my high school teacher, didn’t see a human, a child, he (or she) saw Black skin and that was enough to put a bullet in his head.


When it comes to white supremacy, and its enforcers like the police departments across this country, your respectability politics do not matter.

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