First off, I’m aware that by writing this I am inviting a litany of criticism from left, right, and center. The left will say that I should have done it differently, or castigate me for missing something. Hell, maybe even the social justice warriors will bemoan the fact that this was written by a white person or suggest I’m attempting to speak for all people of color.
The right, on the other hand, will suggest I’m somebody bent on my own emasculation, instigating four hundred years of white slavery, and systematic oppression of whites in order to level the playing field.
The center, per usual, will feign an apolitical stance, suggesting they haven’t done all the research, looked at all the facts, or just isn’t ‘a political person’, and therefore can’t have any sort of opinion on state sponsored terrorism (i.e. police), systemic oppression of minorities, or anything that doesn’t concern Court Street.
Like others, I would love to be able to say that our current predicament isn’t about being white, black, red, or green, but this time it is. This time an All Lives Matter approach isn’t enough to mask your discomfort, nay, denial of what is taken as a universal truth by people of color, that police pose a serious threat to their health and safety, to put it ever so mildly.
While many of us emerge relatively unscathed from run ins with power driven police officers bent on exercising their dominance, others are not so fortunate, evidenced by the frequency in which they have these interactions, their innate knowledge that they are particularly targeted, and the real possibility of death by murder for retrieving their registration from the glove compartment.
I want to pause here really quick and remind everyone who we are talking about. We are talking about our public servants, those charged with the task of protecting and serving. Police. I’m not going to waste my time talking about good eggs and bad apples, if you’re an officer that isn’t abusing your power, escalating situations to the point where you can justify an arrest, or murdering black people, then great, here’s your cookie, you’re doing your job and maintaining public trust while many of your colleagues are working tirelessly to undue that hard earned trust.
This is an interesting way to illuminate white privilege, but I think it hits. If you’re not worried about being pulled over by the police for going the speed limit, that’s your privilege. If you believe law enforcement are here unequivocally to protect and serve, that’s privilege. If you think this movement to replace police departments with community led public safety programs is completely asinine, then right there is your white privilege.
People aren’t driven to the point of complete insurrection because of unfair speeding tickets, or the rude brute police that all of us are familiar with. No, people are driven to this point by decades of state sponsored violence with nearly zero convictions of killer cops. Communities of color, on top of being disenfranchised and systematically stripped of their resources, also experience death from those charged with their care, and these are not isolated incidences propagated by rogue cops (the conviction thereof are truly the isolated incidences). These are protracted, vulgar displays of power by public service workers. If that doesn’t get your blood boiling, there’s your white privilege.
If, however, after reading this, you’re seething, shaking your head and wondering what I’m on about, all the while denying the blatant destruction of black and brown lives by those that have been protecting and serving you, then I believe you need to assess what’s actually upsetting you, and reassess your conception of white privilege.
Say their names: George Floyd, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Breonna Taylor, John Crawford III, Dante Parker, Tanisha Anderson, Eric Harris, Alonzo Smith, Christopher McCorvey, Stephon Clark, Peter Gains, Philando Castile, Randy Nelson, Anthony Ashford, Troy Robinson, India Kager, Jordan Edwards, Aaron Bailey, Botham Jean, Michael Lorenzo Dean, Antwon Rose II, Ronell Foster, Nathaniel Harris Pickett, Bettie Jones, Keith Childress Jr., Tyree Crawford, Victor Manuel LaRosa, Joseph Mann, Salvado Ellswood, Michael Sabbie, Albert Joseph Davis, Felix Kumi, Mya Hall, Darrius Stewart, Alteria Woods, Paterson Brown, Kevin Hicks, Wendell Celestine, Albert Joseph Davis, Brendon Glenn, Laquan McDonald, Dominic Hutchinson, Sandra Bland, Calin Roquemore, Willie Tillman, Christopher Whitfield, Jonathan Sanders, Samuel Dubose, Junior Prosper, Jamar Clark, Miguel Espinal, Peter Gaines, Akai Gurley, Eric Harris, Billy Ray Davies, Rumain Brisbon, Ezell Ford, William Chapman II, Terence Crutcher, Mary Truxillo, Marco Loud, Tamir Rice.
Brian works in the helping profession in Athens, Ohio, he enjoys long walks on the beach, Mac n’ Cheese, and eight hours of sleep.