The Real host Loni Love is releasing her new memoir, I Tried to Change So You Don’t Have To, later this month, and in the book she tells the story of her first experience with the criminal justice system. Love reveals that when she was in college in the 1990s, a white cop arrested her over a soda.
Love grew up in the Detroit projects, and she described her childhood as being enshrined by a “cocoon of blackness” and she never had to deal with the police. However, when she moved to Texas for college, things were a lot different.
The Real’s Loni Love Gets Candid About Her Path to Success: ‘This Is My American Story’ https://t.co/wzPX8mVnZ3
— Loni Love (@LoniLove) June 11, 2020
The talk show host says that at the time she was working as a cashier, and one night after work she went out dancing with her friend Keisha. When they were heading back to campus they stopped at a Mexican restaurant, and Love says that when she was paying for her food, Keisha was “yanked away” by a cop and put in handcuffs.
When Love asked the officer what was happening, he told her that Keisha had been accused of filling up a free water cup with soda. When Love attempted to intervene, she says that the cop placed her under arrest for trespassing.
“Both you n— bitches is going to jail,” said the officer, according to Love’s book. “Now close your f—ing mouth before I close it for you.”
Love told People magazine that the officer put handcuffs on her, and that was her introduction to the criminal justice system. She explained that stealing soda is petty theft, which is a misdemeanor. But trespassing is a felony, and that means she and Keisha were separated when they were taken to jail.
Love writes that she was locked up “with all the murderers, with the felons.” One of her cell mates that night was a woman with a split lip who was “beaten by the cops” during a traffic stop for speeding. Another one of Love’s cellies was a pregnant woman “who shot her baby-daddy in the leg in self defense” after he threatened to “blow her head off.”
Love’s sorority sister bailed her out before she was transferred into central booking, and she was able to get the situation taken care of. However, it cost her every dollar she had to get through the legal process.
“Fortunately I was able to make it out, take probation and get it expunged from my record, but I could have gotten hurt, if it wasn’t for the grace of God. It taught me a lot,” says Love. “It took all of my savings, and it’s all because of something so stupid. And you could say, well she did put soda in a water cup, but it was because we were two black girls. We know if it was two white girls, [the cop] would have said, ‘Don’t do that.'”
After her experience, Loni Love started studying the criminal justice system, and she began noticing the biases against people of color, especially black men. Love says it all connects with why she decided to co-host a talk show because she wanted to have those issues focused on.
Love says that talking about the injustices in our country and showing them on a daily talk show can help everyone learn. She says that someone fought so that she could be a published author, and it is her duty to fight for the next generation.
I Tried to Change So You Don’t Have To hits bookstores on June 23rd.