My Facebook feed is a bastion of solid writing from friends whose stories often touch me profoundly. Many of them are great at storytelling. Most importantly, many of their stories have immediate relevancy.
This friend’s story hit very close to home. She wrote the following.
This is what NOT having #whiteprivilege feels like. This is the reality of being a POC in America today:
The storms tripped our alarm last night and scared the bejeezus out of us. After [my husband] and I cleared all the rooms/closets/cabinets in the house, we tried to cancel the alarm but the deputy had already been dispatched. The first thing that came to mind was: WE’RE MEXICAN!
Before the officer arrived, [my husband] and I had our ID’s in our hands to prove that we were, actually, the homeowners. The Deputy was friendly, professional, and immediately put our minds at ease. She did a walk through the house and checked the garage, as well. She even took a moment to admire Ben’s whitetail trophies.
After she left and we sighed with relief, I wondered: Do white people feel the need to prove they live in their own homes when an alarm is tripped? Do white peoples’ hearts race in fear when they potentially interact with police–in their own homes? Will black and brown people ever stop feeling this way?
Fortunately, we were safe, the Deputy was wonderful, and all’s well that ends well. Have a great Monday, peeps! Be safe out there.
I thanked my friend for writing the post because the reality is POCs usually suffer these indignities in silence and if the event turns bad, being followed in a store, being disrespected or worse, most times we just let it pass. I told her it was sad we still have to teach our kids about these survival techniques and that I remember how hard it was to have “THE TALK” with my daughter. Her response saddened me as I remembered my daughter’s reaction. My friend simply replied:
“The Talk” is the worst. Especially when they’ve grown up in the Kingwood bubble and think they’re immune.
The cop pulled in behind me. Damn. It’s me. “Move into the next parking lot,” The officer said through the loudspeaker. It was one of those very dark empty parking lots off of Westheimer. Now, will this be my DWB (driving while Black) moment with an ‘accidental’ trigger happy cop? My car has all kinds of Liberal stickers on it and also an Obamacare sticker. What kind of attitude will the cop have?
I tried to stay as close to the main street as possible. It is a shame that I did not know what I did but had a palpable fear that actually surprised me. I rolled down my windows and kept both hands on the top of the steering wheel. I could see the officer approaching my car with a bright flashlight from the back driver’s side very cautiously.
He then shined the light inside the car and then on my sticker.
“Do you know why I stopped you sir?” the officer asked.
“No sir I do not,” I responded.
“You crossed over two lanes,” the officer said.
“I did not even realize that sir,” I responded.
“May I have your license and insurance please,” the officer asked.
“My license is in my wallet in my back pocket. Is it OK to take my right hand off the wheel and get the license, sir?” I asked.
“Yes sir,” the officer responded with a slight smile.
I was feeling a bit less apprehensive. This officer was displaying professionalism and respect I had seldom received from any police officer. The officer walked back to the patrol car and stayed there for about 10 minutes. I got a bit concerned. I hope the computer system was not screwing my data up with some felon or something that would then change things. The officer came back to my car.
“I am just going to give you a warning sir. Please note that you gave me an expired insurance card but I checked and your insurance is up to date,” the officer said. “Please make sure to keep an updated version.”
I was so impressed with this cop, I talked him into a selfie. The blog post was very popular. His commanding officer called me and told me he received a citizen commendation.
These were two incidents that really should not have been anything special requiring some sort of inordinate acknowledgment. But for POCs it is profound.
Ironically, around the same time, I am reading my friend’s Facebook post, I hear about Kyle Kashuv.
Kashuv is a recent graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A survivor of the 2018 shooting at the school, he became famous for opposing gun control measures after the attack. Kashuv became the high school outreach director for the conservative group Turning Point USA, and lobbied in favor of a federal “school safety” bill that attempts to address the school shooting problem without gun control. He currently has more than 300,000 followers on Twitter.
These extracurriculars, together with good grades and high SAT scores, earned Kashuv admission to Harvard earlier this year. But in late May, a series of offensive comments he made roughly two years ago — the repeated use of the n-word in private chats and Google Docs — came to light. Harvard initiated a formal review of Kashuv’s admission, and on Monday morning, Kashuv tweeted out a letter from the university formally rescinding his admission.
His Twitter thread where he apologized to the University went viral.
It is understandable for Kyle Kashuv’s to fight for his position at the University. The problem is that Kashuv was offensive to both black people and Jews using racial slurs and stereotypes and threatening violence. The University has not readmitted him.
What was disconcerting was to see how many talking heads including MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle attempting to use the age mistake as some sort of immediate rehabilitation. They seem to want this young man to get a break since he was young.
Did these same people take Michael Brown‘s age into account or did they just assume he was a thug to be treated like a criminal adult? Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Levar Jones, John Crawford III, Eric Garner, and others prove that for POCs, innocence many times is not enough while many go through hoops to protect, defend, and rehabilitate similar behavior in men from the majority population.
If one wants to understand the connecting thread between race and privilege, consider Barack Obama and Donald Trump. I will end with a question. Had Obama fathered children with three different women, grope women, sprout out obscenities in public, displayed a speech/language deficiency, told verifiable lies, use the presidency as a means to enrich, lost the popular vote, and committed fraud in the past on the people he now serves, would he win the presidency, let alone have the media and government treat him respectably or have Congress vacillate on whether to impeach him?