Months ago, a 19-year-old student at Texas A&M University-Commerce was arrested for possession of marijuana. Now, her glamorous mug shot has gone viral, and she’s using her new platform to speak out against the unfair searches of Black students on campus.
Marshala Perkins of Dallas is a self-taught makeup artist. On February 6, Perkins created a makeup tutorial on Facebook Live before going out with friends. However, before she even made it away from her dorm, Perkins was stopped by two white Hunt County police officers, reported Buzzfeed News.
"[One officer] asked me for my handicap sticker because I was in a handicap spot," Marshala said, who often drove her handicapped mother around. "I gave it to him and he brought it back, said everything was clear."
Although Perkins thought her interaction with the officer was over, her worst fear became a reality when the officer allegedly said: "It smells like weed in here."
Although Perkins said her car did not smell like marijuana, the officers conducted a search anyway and found two grams of weed, which she planned to smoke with her friends.
"And so I went to jail for it with my beat face,” Perkins told Buzzfeed’s As/Is.
Weeks later, her photos was published to the @mugshotbaes Twitter page, where it went viral months later. People everywhere were asking Perkins for the makeup she used in the photo.
"At first I was embarrassed because that’s not really something that you want to be broadcasted," Perkins told Buzzfeed. "But then when I saw all the support for me with my face beat—because makeup is something that I really wanted to do—I was like 'OK!' I wasn’t feeling too bad about it.”
The 19-year-old shared all of the products used in the photo and even asked for people to donate money to help her pay her $2,000 in court fees. This was Perkins’ first arrest, which resulted in her staying overnight in jail and being place on probation for six months.
Perkins also revealed many Black students in her area have been unfairly searched and arrested for marijuana.
“I mean it was getting to the point where nobody that I was meeting was able to tell me, ‘Oh no, I was never arrested down here for marijuana’ or ‘I’ve never been stopped or searched or anything'," she told As/Is.
In 2013, an ACLU study revealed Black people are 2.33 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Texas even though the usage is about even between white and Black people.
After her arrest, Perkins lost her part-time job at Walmart. With little money for the semester and her mother’s battle with breast cancer, Marshala decided to take a voluntary leave of absence in the upcoming fall semester.
She's currently working full-time as a security officer and taking makeup clients on the side.
“It’s been really hard trying to get a job because of my background now. A lot of people don’t want to hire people with marijuana on their background,” Perkins told Buzzfeed.
Now, Marshala wants Black women to "know their rights" and know what’s going on around them.
“I really regret going out to my car that night," Marshala admitted. "But it’s all a learning experience, you know?"
(Photo: Greenville Court House)