Privilege

I had an incident this weekend that really nailed the idea of “privilege” in my mind. I’m at the local bagel shop in the ‘hood. I’m standing just inside the entrance to maintain social distance to the person inside.1 A woman comes behind and parks herself less than a foot from me. I promptly turn and glare at her. Seeing that didn’t work, I moved forward. Luckily the person in front of me had moved to the side as he had finished placing his order.

At this point I’m kind of over it. I’m reading the news on my phone. I glance up ever so often to see if my food is ready and to ensure I do not need to move again to maintain my distance. The previously mentioned woman is now glaring at me and I can tell she is mumbling under her breath. I’m thinking to myself, “get over it lady, maintain your distance and no one will glare at you.” Her order came up first, even though she ordered after me, as she only ordered something quick. As she’s leaving, I look up to see her glaring at me again and mumbling. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until she was out the door that I put her words to meaning. She had said to me, “black lives matter too MF’er!

Of course, I’m immediately upset. I mean the nerve! How dare she make it about race. I don’t give two-shits what color you are, maintain yo’ distance! Then it dawns on me. She mistook my glare and stepping away from her to mean I was avoiding her because of her skin color. I was floored! How could I have done this? But, as I go over the scenario in my mind, I honestly wouldn’t have done anything different. I’d glare at your dumb-ass for not maintaining distance regardless.

At this point, my anger dissipates and I feel only compassion and sadness. How terrible the world she walks in must be that this was her first assumption? I frequently say, “I walk in an extraordinarily different world than people of color.” This was a prime example of that. My heart sank knowing how much anger, hurt, and resentment she must be felling. And while I can take some comfort in knowing my own actions were honorable, it still left me profoundly sad.

I benefit and often take many things for granted simply because I am white. It really struck me how privileged I am. People often mistake being called “privileged” for being wealthy or having life easy. That is not the meaning here. Lawd knows, my life before the age of 25 was an utter shit-show. I wen thru more drama and tragedy in those years than most people go thru in a life time. In spite of all that, I can see and understand I still benefit daily from being white.

My only regret is not being able to clarify why I was glaring at her.2 If I could, I’d give her a hug as well. It was too late and I wasn’t about to try and chase her down after the fact. I can only take solace in the knowledge my actions were not racially motivated.

I strive to be better and to help others be better. I encourage you to do the same. A lot of people are hurting right now. Should you encounter a similar scenario as a white person, I implore you to see the bigger picture and recognize, it isn’t necessarily you the person is acting out against.

Hope springs eternal….

  1. It is a small space. []
  2. The humor in that is not lost on me. []

Kaepernick

I’ve gotten a few requests for my thoughts on this whole faux scandal. I say faux because I love how people go out of their way to “out American” others. It is just another in a series of sad stories showing our growing ignorance as a nation. Anyway, since I work for a law-enforcement related agency, people often assume I’m always gonna side with the police. Wrong. While I certainly have insights that others might not have at times, I always strive to be on the side of fairness and truth. 
First, Kapernick has the right to not stand. He has that right because of the men/women who have fought for it. Being a free American means you can criticize your country’s failings, perceived or otherwise. Actually calling out your leader’s failings is as American as one can get if you read our constitution. As to Kaepernick, he certainly isn’t immune to fallout from said behavior, but stop trying to shame him for it.

As to the man himself, I find his behavior a bit hypocritical. For someone who often uses racial slurs,1 it seems a bit disingenuous to suddenly find a moral compass now. And considering his influence and place in society as a famous football playing millionaire, I’m struggling to find the sincerity in his actions. Rumor has it his new girlfriend is big in the BLM movement and I can’t help but wonder if that has influenced his ideas, not that her influence is necessarily a bad thing. Being enlightened by others is perfectly fine; however, what else is he doing? Is he meeting w/local police agencies? Is he donating money to community groups? Is he doing anything besides his now infamous ‘sitting’ exercise? I don’t need to disparage the man to show the contrast of his actions. 

At the end of the day, there is a very real problem between minority communities and police agencies. But it isn’t always about racism. There are many social, cultural, & economic variables affecting the divide. Trying to conflate it all into one giant polarizing idea of black & white2 is simplistic and often the tool of the biased. As I’ve said before, acknowledging failures by law enforcement doesn’t make me support law enforcement any less. Nor does calling out the bad players within the BLM movement make me any less supportive of fair and equal treatment for minorities.  And  speaking of the bad players, am I only the only seeing the irony here? We proclaim loudly that BLM and others can protest peacefully w/o resorting to violence and the moment someone does, we attack him as anti-American. So what we really want is to completely avoid the inherent problems still festering in our society. 

The sensationalized style of our media and news consumption only lends itself to dividing all sides even further apart. The focus isn’t on truth or even honest reporting. It’s solely on generating outrage which turns into ad-clicks. 

So I accept his right to sit and protest. Just as I accept he probably isn’t doing it for the right reasons. Either way, those are my feelings on the subject. 

  1. He has been fined for them before []
  2. see what I did there? Hehehe []