“I’m That Girl” Chucks & Pearls
The topic of today is “I’m That Girl” Chucks & Pearls, a celebration of the video posted June 2016 by Ex-Police Officer, Author, and Activist Nakia Jones in hopes that people would have a more in-depth better understanding of what the video was about, the roads traveled getting to that point and the people surrounding her at that time. Also, her view on how Kamala Harris’ phrase “Chucks & Pearls” bought women together from all walks of life.
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In 1999 Officer Jones joined the Highland Hills Police Department and in 2002 she was sworn in as the first African American female officer for the City of Warrensville Heights, Ohio. She held that position as the Senior Response Officer until 2017. Officer Jones not only worked for the City of Warrensville Heights, but she also lived in the city. She was an active member of her community and volunteered for Career Day throughout the district. On many occasions, Officer Jones sat with Juveniles and their families, while off duty, to help resolve conflict.
In June 2016, Officer Nakia Jones’ gained popularity when she posted a very passionate statement on Facebook that went viral after the death of an African American male, Alton Sterling who was shot by a police officer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Ms. Jones put the uniform aside and immediately entered into the role as a mother of two African American sons. She reacted to her oldest son expressing his fear of some of the women and men wearing the same uniform she wears. Ms. Jones’ powerful words “If you are White and you are working in an African American community and you dislike or are afraid of people who don’t look like you, you have no business in that uniform, take it off.” The video continues to be shared today. Ms. Jones, in their defense, stated, “There are good police officers who give their lives to protect their communities, and reinforced the fact that all police officers are not bad or racists.
Throughout the discussion, there were a number of questions asked, one in particular, “Why did you actually decide to go on Facebook and post that video”? Ms. Jones responded emotionally as she explained how hurt she was when her son told her the video had gone viral. She had no intentions of crossing or going against the blue wall of silence, but her statement was heart-felt and obviously reached across the nation. She felt that what comes from the heart is going to relate to your heart, “I’m in pain and I just need to talk about this”; knowing her friends would chime in but having no idea the door she had opened.
Mr. Watson then turned to the mention of friends, one of her biggest supporters, Jocelyn Hurt. Ms. Hurt submitted a video of a little history on the journey she and Nakia had taken as best friends. Beginning with a little back-history, she mentioned the two had attended the same high school, had the same mutual friends, but Nakia didn’t remember her then. Eventually, they crossed paths in adulthood and became friends. Jocelyn explained how the video in 2016 changed her perspective in the way she viewed Police Officers, and her now the impression of someone she knew as a Police Officer. Already in support of Nakia, after viewing the seven-minute video, and the backlash raging, she then realized how much support Nakia would need. Jocelyn became Nakia’s personal assistant and the rest is pretty much history.
Nakia discussed not only the backlash but the hardships she experienced during that time. She was asked, “As a mother, what did you notice about your kids during this time”? She explained how close she and her children are and how important it was that her children could see the trauma their mother was experiencing. What stood out and she is most grateful for is the fact that her son “… not only just saw me down, he saw me get back up.” She felt that was most important for a young man to see, and for her daughter as well. Included in this discussion are video clips of Nakia’s son Jeremiah and daughter Katherine giving their interpretation of how the video going viral affected them. They both expressed how proud of her they are and how she remains their pillar of strength. The love and respect these two young adults have for their mother are boundless!
This journey has been quite trying for Nakia and her assistant, Jocelyn Hurt. A major part of Nakia’s dilemma was the support she thought she would receive from her fellow officers, as well as from Black police associations, which never materialized. Therefore, Nakia felt isolated and alone during much of her journey, convinced that her brothers and sisters in blue had turned their backs on her. Fortunately, over the past five (5) years Nakia has acquired a huge support base, including our Moderator and Founder of Strategies for Justice, Terry L. Watson and Shawn Kennedy, Information Officer at National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc., (NABLEO). I reached out to Mr. Kennedy for a more detailed description of how they met and the circumstances under which their meeting occurred.
In speaking with Shawn, he stated,
“Not being much of a Facebook person at that time, I did not learn of Nakia’s 2016 infamous video that went viral, until mid-2020. After watching Nakia’s weekly live discussions a couple of times and finally viewing the viral video, I sent a message to Nakia via social media because I felt we needed to connect. Out of the hundreds of direct messages Nakia received on a daily basis, my message miraculously reached its destination. After talking to Nakia and listening to her story firsthand, I pledged my personal support, and that of NABLEO, moving forward. Although the support came four (4) years into Nakia’s journey, neither one could have known that God destined our paths to cross at the right time.
Nakia finally had public support from men and women who looked just like her, and who came from the same profession as she did. This allowed Nakia’s confidence and self-esteem to build back up as she continued her journey. Through many phone calls, patronizing her weekly live discussions, inducting her into the NABLEO organization and family, and connecting her with various contacts, Nakia recognized the support she received was real and not just talk. One of the connections made was pairing Nakia with former Buffalo (NY) police officer, Cariol Horne. Cariol had attempted to reach out to Nakia when her ordeal began in 2016 but was unsuccessful because of the massive number of messages Nakia received at that time. Cariol wanted to unselfishly offer Nakia the support she would need; Cariol having experienced the same type of isolation and retaliation herself. As Nakia and Cariol’s friendship developed, they saw just how much their journeys mimicked one another’s. Nakia now had a friend who could not only relate to her journey but could also give her the guidance she needed. There was no way for either of them to know how their connection would later come into play when it was needed the most. God is great, he will make things happen and place people in your life when you need them the most. Nakia has since accepted her new reality as she continues her journey of healing, one day at a time. With God’s angels in place, Nakia will continue to be victorious.”
Ms. Jones remains in touch with Alton Sterling’s family!
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About the author
Elinor A. McNeel, currently retired after a lengthy career as a Legal Assistant, decided to return to school and is presently attending Penn State University completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Society. She enjoys reading a good book, writing, editing, and anything involving technology. Elinor is a published author of Understanding Rhetoric: A Student Guide with Samples and Analysis. Originally from Chicago, Ill, her family relocated to Los Angeles, California where she presently resides.