Cashing Checks: Trafficking In Privilege

nice little bit of police harassment

nice little bit of police harassment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time to catch up a bit. I have been out of the loop way too much lately. Fortunately the loop has been kind enough to wrap around me without my having to look at it. So thank you world, for giving Christine a reason (reasons really) to get her crusader back on. 

I would also like to thank my wonderful NYPIRG family for helping me to come out of my shell for the first time in a long time. Once, a generation ago, I would speak up even over the little things that would bother me. Somewhere along the way I got timid. I had always been shy in social settings, but if I saw someone doing something I thought was wrong I would speak up, until about my mid to late twenties. I don’t know what sent me into that shell, but Patty Ceravole, Nina Gray, Matt Vail, all the other wonderful people I canvassed with and more importantly the people I canvassed brought me back out again. So again, thank you.

I had not thought the past few months about how much this summer affected me until this morning. On my way to Starbucks I came across a traffic incident at the corner of Oxford and Park. A MoC had stalled out at the intersection and the white man behind him laid on the horn really thick. When the man in front tried to wave the other around, Mr. I’m White And Therefor Should Not Be Inconvenienced left his vehicle, chest puffed out, waving his arms and screaming “I can’t go around!”

Never mind that he could have, his car was fairly small and if he just backed up, there were no vehicles behind him, he would have been just fine, what was it about this minor set back that made it OK to leave his vehicle to confront the other man? I immediately told him that the other man was having car trouble, something I might have shied away from just two months ago. I deserve no cookies for this, it was the minimum I was obligated to do. The man scowled and went back to his vehicle, the other got his car to work just enough to get it turned around to a parking spot and everyone went on their way.

The whole situation immediately made me wonder though: what if their races had been reversed? Had it been a PoC being impatient in back, had he left his vehicle, the white man would have almost certainly called 911. If the cops arrived (a likely scenario, since the frightened white person would have almost certainly told the dispatcher that there was an aggressive black man coming toward them) the impatient party would have likely been cuffed and arrested. Had they been called for the situation as it actually occurred, the white man at most would have been admonished just to be patient. The cops would have been understanding of his impatience and possibly even brusque with the PoC having car troubles.

This is why I get so frustrated when my fellow white folk start whining about reverse racism. They will never have to worry about this sort of thing. They will never have to second guess whether or not they should defend themselves against an aggressor because the cops might take the aggressor’s side no matter the evidence. They will never be automatically assumed to be in the wrong, no matter what Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh or Anne Coulter try to tell you.

This morning a self-important white man rocked his white privilege with gusto, and I wish to all hell it was a rare occurrence. I wish to all hell other white folk would realize that it is not, and by not calling it out, they are enabling it.


2 thoughts on “Cashing Checks: Trafficking In Privilege

  1. What gets me is that people use the term “reverse racism” as if it meant something. How can there be reverse racism? There is either racism or there is not racism. “Reverse racism” implies that there is a proper form of racism that goes in the right direction. So when commentators such as the ones you mentioned complain about reverse racism, they must be comparing it to their own correct, forward racism.


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