Emilio (my co-conspirator) and me, several years ago.

“This is Stanford PD! Drop your weapon and get on the ground!”

I looked out of the corner of my eye. Behind Emilio and me stood two uniformed officers, each with a military-style rifle trained at our torsos. We did as we were told, very slowly: we laid our rifle down, laid ourselves down, and then spread out our arms and legs. The officers cautiously approached us, and one of them patted us down. After several quiet, tense moments, they both broke out in laughter.

As it turned out, the police were responding to reports of two young men aiming a gun at people around campus. What they found was two bored college kids who decided to spend their Saturday afternoon firing an airsoft replica AK-47 into the woods as target practice.

The officers told us off for playing around with an airsoft gun in a public area, gave us recommendations for shooting ranges for target practice, and then sent us on our merry way.

This scene happened in 2011. I’ve told this story at least twenty times. Each time I tell it, I end up reflecting on how lucky my friend and I were on that day. One or both of us could have easily died that day. And because of what? We were college kids doing stupid shit.

In light of the shootings that started the BLM movement, I’ve reflected a lot on how fortunate my friend and I were. I think a lot of why this situation didn’t escalate was because we weren’t black and were given the benefit of the doubt in a very tense situation. Tamir Rice’s shooting, in particular, broke my heart when I heard about it. He, too, was playing with a toy gun, but he isn’t here today to write about it.

I’m not sure it’s my place to say any more than this: I am still here, and I feel extremely fortunate to be.

Thanks to Tina and Emilio for reading previous drafts of this.