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The Trigger in My Hand is Not What You Think…

Some people take the Anteater Express to school every day, but no, not me–I prefer my mini Meepo electric skateboard. I savor the cool sensation of the wind blowing in my hair and I get a thrill from the uncertainty that comes from riding on a 30-inch skateboard at 22mph. It’s freedom to me. It’s leaving my apartment when I want to without having to wait on a bus that takes 15 minutes to drop me off at UCI in the complete opposite direction from my classes. It takes me seven minutes once I step outside of my apartment to get to the Anteater Learning Pavilion and I live for the speed.

I understand that owning an electric board is a privilege and I am grateful to have my board as a transportation alternative. But the biggest privilege that I carry with me when I ride my board is my remote.

“A remote?” I get it, you’re confused! Here’s a picture; see if you can come to the same disturbing conclusion I came to when I first opened the box to my new board.

Let’s see: all black, small, and has a trigger mechanism? Hmm…

Now imagine I’m on my board, holding this small black device, and all you can see as I ride by quickly is a black blur that looks like a gun. Don’t freak out, it’s not a gun. But it looks like it.

Herein lies the issue: I’m a girl, I’m petite, and I’m white-passing. Combine all of these, and you get one seemingly non-threatening individual who’s holding what looks like a gun but definitely can’t be, right? But switch any of these elements, particularly the “white-passing,”out of the equation and suddenly there’s a high probability I’ll be reported to the police, or worse.

I know that my appearance, in the context of owning an electric board with a remote like the one pictured above, is a privilege. I see the greater issue of white privilege in letting me get away with holding an alarmingly gun-like device in my hand without so much as a “huh” from passersby. With the recent Thousand Oaks shooting, I am more aware of this–this possible connotation of my black remote as a weapon as devastating as the one which broke the hearts of so many families.

It’s scary how using my skateboard trigger to switch speed gears has gone from from exhilarating to anxiety-inducing. Appearance aside, anyone holding something remotely similar to a gun can seem frightening considering the recent tragedies which have scarred our country.

Consequently, I have taken steps to make my remote less intimidating. I never point the remote at anyone even as a joke. It stays in my backpack while I’m in class and I only bring it out when I’m riding. I’ve even added colored duct tape to my remote to diminish the ugly black underside. Recently, Meepo has introduced more colorful remotes as alternatives to the classic black remote. These should be the future of smart and safe skateboarding, so that more riders like me can enjoy riding carefree without the weight of a national crisis in our hands.

Katie Freiberg

UC Irvine '21

A current junior, Katie is thrilled to be a member of the Her Campus community! In her spare time, she loves cooking vegan meals, skateboarding around campus, and FaceTiming her two dogs who live back home in the Bay Area. Katie is passionate about sustainability and environmental justice. She is proud to be a registered voter and encourages you to sign up too! https://registertovote.ca.gov/
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