Adrenaline Rush

Volcano surfing is a sport in which a person rides down an active volcano at speeds up to 50 miles per hour using nothing but a wooden board.

When I heard about this activity, I thought to myself, it must be nice to feel so safe, you have to invent new ways to put yourself in danger.

When the body thinks it may be swallowing its last breath, the adrenal glands release hormones into the blood, the skin becomes a cocktail of sweat and fear, the heart gets claustrophobic, the lungs become newlyweds holding hands in a crashing airplane. This is called an adrenaline rush.

I was 18 when I started driving. I was 18 the first time I was pulled over.

It was 2 am on a Saturday. The officer spilled his lights all over my rearview mirror, he splashed out of the car with his hand already on his weapon, and looked at me the way a tsunami looks at a beach house. Immediately, I could tell he was the kind of man who brings a gun to a food fight.

He called me son and I thought to myself, that’s an interesting way of pronouncing “boy.” He asks for my license and registration, wants to know what I’m doing in this neighborhood, if the car is stolen, if I have any drugs and most days, I know how to grab my voice by the handle and swing it like a hammer. But instead, I picked it up like a shard of glass. Scared of what might happen if I didn’t hold it carefully because I know that this much melanin and that uniform is a plotline to a film that can easily end with a chalk outline baptism, me trying to make a body bag look stylish for the camera and becoming the newest coat in a closet full of RlP hashtags.

Once, a friend of a friend asked me why there aren’t more black people in the X Games and I said, “You don’t get it.”

Being black is one of the most extreme sports in America. We don’t need to invent new ways of risking our lives because the old ones have been working for decades.

Jim Crow may have left the nest, but our streets are still covered with its feathers. Being black in America is knowing there’s a thin line between a traffic stop and the cemetery,

it’s the way my body tenses up when I hear a police siren in a song, it’s the quiver in my stomach when a cop car is behind me, it’s the sigh of relief when I turn right and he doesn’t. I don’t need to go volcano surfing. Hell, I have an adrenaline rush every time an officer right past without pulling me over

and I realize I’m going to make it home safe.

This time.

- Rudy Francisco


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