Where I live I walk in this neighborhood across the road. Two police officers live in the neighborhood. One day while I was walking — maybe around 2 or 3 years ago — one of those police officers stopped me as I walked. He asked if I was on the back of a motorcycle. I said no. He looked at me like he didn’t believe me. He asked: “Are you sure? The girl fit your description.” Of course the description he gave was a skinny white girl with brown hair. Not the best description. After all, that fits about half the population. I said no again. He left but not after giving me another disbelieving look. I was annoyed so I went home and joked with my aunt that maybe I should bring my ID with me on walks.
It’s only recently in the light of the events that have transpired in the past few weeks that I have thought about that incident. Now I wonder what would’ve happened had I not been white. How would that conversation had gone had I been a black woman walking? How would that conversation had gone if I had been a Hispanic woman? Or some other minority? Would the cop still have peacefully left? Or would he have kept asking me questions if I was the girl on the motorcycle. Would he had gotten out of his cruiser? Would he had put me on the ground for insubordination? Even though I wasn’t the girl on the motorcycle? Would people had come out of their houses with their cell phones and recorded my arrest? Thankfully, none of that happened. I am still here. I am alive. The cop left me alone because I am a white female. But had I not been, how would that event had ended?
Those are the thoughts that run through my head in this time of turmoil. In a time when tensions are already high because of the pandemic, now the tension is drawn tighter than a bow because of the senseless police brutality. That string is ready to snap. And I have no doubt that it will get far worse before it ever gets better.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what’s happening. You more than likely know. You know about George Floyd. You know about how he was held down by his neck by a police officer for almost 8 minutes while 2 other police officers watched. The police officer who held Floyd down is being charged, I believe. I’m not sure about the other police officers. You know about Breonna Taylor. You know how she was sleeping her in house. You know how police came into her house and killed her. Like me, you listened to the 911 Dispatch call with her boyfriend as he begged for help. George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are only two of the many people who have been killed police officers in unjust circumstances.
Now nationwide there are protests, marches, riots and looting. And even worldwide even in places like Ireland, Berlin, Copenhagen, and other places in Europe. All over people are asking for justice. No, people are begging for justice.
This isn’t about you. This isn’t about me. I am a white female. I don’t have the same fear of being murdered by police officers. This is about the people who do not have that privilege.
A post floating around on Facebook sums this up quite well.
I have privilege as a white person because I can do all of these things without thinking twice:
I can go birding (#ChristianCooper)
I can go jogging (#AmaudArbery)
I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothemSean and #AtatianaJefferson)
I can ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride)
I can have a cellphone (#StephonClark)
I can leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards)
I can play loud music (#JordanDavis)
I can sell CDs (#AltonSterling)
I can sleep (#AiyanaJones)
I can walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown)
I can play cops and robbers (#TamirRice)
I can go to church (#Charleston9)
I can walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin)
I can hold a hair brush while leaving my own bachelor party (#SeanBell)
I can party on New Years (#OscarGrant)
I can get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland)
I can lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile)
I can break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones)
I can shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford)
I can have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher)
I can read a book in my own car (#KeithScott)
I can be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover)
I can decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese)
I can ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans)
I can cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood)
I can take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo)
I can run (#WalterScott)
I can breathe (#EricGarner)
I can live (#FreddieGray)
I CAN BE ARRESTED WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING MURDERED (#GeorgeFloyd)
White privilege is real. Take a minute to consider a Black person’s experience today.
Do I think the looting is necessary?
Not necessarily. But the people are angry. They are sick and tired of this injustice. They are doing everything they can to be heard. They want their sorrow, grief, and anger to be heard around the world. No, I don’t want people to get hurt.
Do I think that people should shoot at the looters?
No. Firing guns isn’t going to help anything. It’s going to make it worse. It’s already bad enough. Let’s not escalate the situation more. By having people firing guns at looters or protesters, that’s only going to add more fuel to the fire.
Do I think that running over protestors is right?
No. I don’t. They have the right to protest peacefully —and that’s the thing — they are protesting peacefully. For the most part.
Then you hear of police officers firing tear gas and firing rubber bullets for no reason. They weren’t provoked. They fired because they wanted to. Cops have gone undercover at protests to cause panic and violence.
You hear of children being sprayed in the face with mace and crying in pain when they were simply trying to get home.
You hear of bystanders being injured when they were trying to get home after buying groceries.
You hear of journalists getting shot by rubber bullets for doing their job. For being the voice of the people. For telling us what happened.
Yet, not all cops are bad. You hear of police officers who kneel down and join in on marches because they are angry too. They are sad. They don’t agree with what’s happening either. They want justice. So they join. They come to the marches, and ask: “What can we do?” And the protesters respond: “Walk with us!”
I will repeat that. Not all cops are bad. A quote comes to mind.
“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on…that’s who we really are.”-Sirius Black
I think in the midst of all of this chaos, we forget that not all cops are bad. People are both good and bad. It is up to them on how they act.
One of my favorite movies is The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Esmeralda stands up to Frollo after the people of Paris attack Quasimodo because he’s different. She stands alone but she still fight. She stops them. When Frollo says “Silence!” She screams: “Justice!”
This is one of my favorite scenes because she doesn’t care that she stands alone. She does it anyways. Not long after this scene, she’s in Notre Dame and speaking to the priest. She says:
“You saw what he did out there. Letting the crowd torture that poor boy? I thought if just one person could stand up to him, then…”-The Hunchback of Notre Dame
This isn’t one person we have to stand up to. This is an entire system. Just as Frollo discriminated against Gypsies, there is a clear discrimination towards minorities, persons of color.
So let me retract my previous statement. This is about you. This is about me. We both have voices. It is up to you on how you use it.
I’m not saying you have to blast your social media. You don’t have to post anything if you don’t want to. Perhaps like me, Facebook is where you watch 5-Minute Craft and cute cat videos. You keep your feed clear of social media. There’s nothing wrong with that. Personally, my Facebook is just for watching 5-Minute Crafts and cute cat videos. I share some political stories because they are important to me. I don’t get into arguments on social media because I try to keep it professional and clean. Sometimes, you have to think about your own mental health. I understand that. You can do something else. You can go to peaceful protests to support your friends, neighbors, coworkers, family. If you aren’t comfortable doing that then maybe, you can just talk to those people. Let them talk and you listen to their fears. Be the support that honestly, they could really use right now. That’s what you can do. Be there for them in this tumultuous time. You might not understand, but you can still stand with them.
This is to all my friends of color who are afraid during this time.
I may not understand. But I will stand with you.
If you need someone to listen, I will be there. I will listen as you talk and tell me about your fears. I will hold your hand or, even, if you want, I will even give you a hug.
If you don’t feel safe going into a grocery store, gas station, what have you, I will be there. You can call or text me. I will stay on the phone. Or you know what, I will go with you.
If you need someone to protest with you, I will be there. I have a camera. I will make sure everyone knows that we are protesting peacefully.
There are a few happening in Little Rock. I’ve included the Facebook link to them.
If you need me, I will be there. I will stand by you. I’ll stand by you.
I would like to end this blog on a different note. So here’s a song from 1994 by The Pretenders.