Here is a heartwarming story. It is a story of a kind deed in a world of too little kindness.
It is also a blatant example of the white privilege some of us still seem to struggle identifying or acknowledging. Reading the headline, it is impossible not to compare the narrative to another incident in which a woman driving in the south was pulled over for a minor traffic violation.
Story A: A white woman is speeding (breaking the law) and is stopped by a police officer. Not only is she not penalized for this act, she is given a very nice thank you note by the officer and praised for being a good mother, daughter and human being.
Story B: A black woman doesn’t use her turn signal while changing lanes (to allow a marked police car to pass her). She is arrested and incarcerated — an event which led to her tragic death. She was also (“allegedly”) assaulted prior to her arrest, refused explanation during her arrest, confined in isolation, and not given the medical or psychological attention required by law under basic human/civil rights. In addition to this, her character (and, by extension, the character of black people as presented by the media and our justice system) was maligned as an attempt was made to whitewash these events after her death.
The contrast between the two situations could not be more glaring — more stark. The facts speak for themselves. When can we (white people) stop denying that our nation is still categorically racist? And when are we (white people) going to start acknowledging the gaping chasm between the privilege of one race and the systematic, ongoing oppression of another?
Sometimes privilege can be tricky to spot in ourselves. Here’s a simple question to help gauge yours in this scenario: how do you feel when you see a cop?
I am a white woman. (Blonde hair, blue eyes…the whole aryan-nine-yards.) When I see a cop I feel safe. I feel warm fuzzies. I know I only have to make eye contact and they will come swooping to my rescue. It’s not even something I think about. It’s just my reality — and one of the multitude of privileges I have simply due to the fact I was born with white skin.
A staggering percentage of citizens in this country cannot imagine what that feels like (just like I cannot imagine feeling fear every time I see a police car or an officer in uniform).
I am still learning to see my privilege; and to be honest, I still have no idea what to do with it. But recognizing and acknowledging it seems like a step in the right direction.