This isn’t about me, but…
I know good cops. Every police officer I know has always been decent, polite and considerate toward me, even heroic. But this is not about my anecdotal experience.
As a white man, I was born standing on third base. Black people I know don’t have the same experience with law enforcement as me. Not even close.
They tell me that when they are pulled over, they are nervous, even afraid. They don’t have drugs or alcohol or weapons in their cars, but they sure feel like it. When I get pulled over I’m either going to get a ticket or not. That’s it.
Two years ago I was pulled over by two CHP officers at 2am on suspicion of DUI. They said I was weaving. One asked me if I had anything to drink. I quipped, “Yes, 10 years ago.” He asked for my license. I didn’t have it with me. He asked, if I was messing with my phone. I quipped again, “No one I would talk to is awake at this time.” I offered to do a breathalyzer. Then he let me go. No ticket. Just be safe and make sure I carry my license next time.
I count six examples of white privilege in that paragraph.
It would take balls like a brass monkey to try to impress upon a black person that all the cops I know “are good.”
My greatest fear in a traffic stop is how I’m going to afford the $250 fine. Black people don’t know what the hell is going to happen. They sure aren’t going to be a smartass like me.
Everything they’ve seen says potential danger. If an officer treats them badly, or god forbid kills them, the cop will be shrugged off as a “bad apple” (by the way, the entire expression is “A few bad apples spoil the whole barrel”)
In an interview, San Antonio Spurs Coach Greg Popovich said, “It’s like we born with innate white supremacy, because we’re white.”
I am part of the problem, because I benefit from racism. It’s not enough that I am not racist. I have to be anti-racist. My words are tears in the rain. They don’t mean two spits without action— and humility. I am not special because I am ally to black and brown people. I am privileged enough that it is a luxury.
I am not concerned that police or their enablers might not like what I say. Every significant change for the good in my life began with a person calling me on my bullshit. I got angry and defensive, I wallowed in self pity and blamed every one else. Then I surrendered — and grew the fuck up.
I won’t dive into the violent feature of protests, other than to ask, what did I expect? I watched for nine minutes as a smirking, nonchalant police officer and his “brothers” lynched a man over $20. Was I arrogant enough to expect, or worse demand, a wave of kumbaya? Did I expect the police to suddenly change or instead unleash even more brutality? That would have been embarrassingly naive.
The sad reality is that part of the reason the protests feel different this time—bigger—is that people who look like me are in the streets. White people are also getting run over and stomped by police, white people are being tear gassed, white people are being clubbed and shot with rubber bullets. So NOW it matters. If it were only black people protesting we would already be on to the next news cycle.
My wife once told me never apologize with a but: I’m sorry but…” The but erases everything that came before. Some people in my family and longtime friends have a “but” speech impediment. It’s terrible what happened to George Floyd, BUT what did he do to cause it? BUT most police are good. BUT he resisted ( he didn’t). BUT what about the rioters?
I won’t even try to argue with these people. Its how they hide their sins.
I love them, BUT…