Tiffany Roberson

As Interviewed by Harrison C., March 7, 2018

Tiffany Roberson: In Her Own Words

The town I grew up in is El Centro, California, which is ten minutes from the Mexico border, about forty-five minutes from the Arizona border, so very at the southern tip of California. And there was not a very large black population. You have me and my brother -- two mixed kids -- with a white dad, and the looks he would get.

In college, I remember we went to a party, me and my friends. And in my school there was a large population of whites and a smaller population of blacks, but we were all at the party, all hanging out together and we were in Seguin, Texas. And after the party, everyone was leaving -- it was in downtown. The police were having everybody go home, and we were leaving just like everyone else -- except for some reason, my group who happened to be all African-American. The police drew a weapon on us and told us that we needed to get out of the street and leave the area. It was shocking to me because twenty to thirty people in the street, leaving the building and going to their cars, but our group was targeted and had weapons drawn on us.

I wasn’t afraid in that situation -- and maybe I should be -- but it’s kinda dumb looking back. But I question the cop. That’s the choice that you’re making right now? You feel like this is the right choice to pull a weapon on college students? We’re no different than the other people down the street, but you think that’s the choice you wanna make? I ask reflective questions on him, and that he would look at his behavior and see how offended I was instead of fearful in that situation.

So probably for me the worst time for racism was my college years. I remember a time I had to have a conversation with a professor. We were in a lecture. I remember another student got up to use the bathroom or do something outside. They came back, I did the same, but when I came back to my desk he told me that I needed to leave the lecture hall. I did -- I left. But after class I waited in the hallway. When he left I asked him to have a conversation with me. Again, with the same situation with the police officer, I let him know that I paid just like every other single student in there. Had I done something out of the norm for any of the other students? Then he had no right to take away that I had paid for and that I deserved to be in that class as I was meeting the expectation of what he had and what everyone else in the class was doing.

I do remember a time with me and my then-boyfriend, now husband, were in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Our hotel was right there by the parade route. We left everything in the room to go watch the parade just ‘cause we didn’t want to lose stuff trying to catch beads and stuff. When we went back to our room we used our key card. Well it was demagnetized, so we went downstairs trying to get in and they couldn’t verify that we stayed there as all of our things were in the room. We couldn’t open the door. We were basically refused service -- they wouldn’t give us any customer service and called the cops on us and forced us to leave, waiting for someone else to come back to the room. His brother had the room in his name, and he was at the Mardi Gras ball and wouldn’t be back till later -- but they greeted us with police officers at the front desk and asked us to leave. I was a paying patron, I greeted them, said good morning, good evening, made eye contact, but you act as though you have never seen me before. Not just that but I’m a safety concern in your establishment. I think that time was just a bit frustrating more so than all the other times, but we had a good time.