I’ve been following and quietly supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement for months now… since things first erupted in Ferguson, but have said little. What could a suburban, white girl possibly contribute to the conversation? How can I speak without coming off as patronizing or insincere?
Add to this the fact that I live in the South; in an extremely conservative, upper-middle class suburb in the South. As the events of the last 7 months have unfolded I’ve heard lots of comments like, “That’s why you do what the police tell you to do” and “Well if he hadn’t been doing something wrong in the first place, he never would have been stopped.” I’ve seen Facebook posts touting the heroism of officers and our responsibility to support them, and I personally know officers that I believe are good people.
All of this being said, seeing Walter Scott gunned down while running from an officer, handcuffed while he lay dying and allowed to lie there with no medical attention as he unceremoniously and without notice expired, was unbearable.
I know that this isn’t the first black man to have been the victim of this kind of merciless crime. The list is becoming too long to recall by memory, just speaking about those killed over the past 7 months. Eric Garner, pleading for air as he is choked in New York; Tamir Rice, only 12 years old and gunned down in a park; Jonathan Ferrell, shot while attempting to seek help after a car accident. There are so many more.
I can’t imagine this being my reality. My white privilege allows me to be pulled over, get pissed off about it, and smart ass the cop who’s writing me the ticket without any fear that he’s going to do anything more than talk bad about me when he gets back in his car.
As a grown woman and a Christian leader in my community, the fact that I would act disrespectfully toward an officer isn’t right. Honestly, it’s embarrassing to admit. But it’s my natural reaction based on my own experiences. Not experiences of violence or oppression like those faced by so many others, but experiences that reinforce my own privilege.
I won’t go into a diatribe against all of the dishonest, corrupt and downright criminal police officers that I’ve encountered in my life. Suffice it to say that I’ve had the occasion to be pulled over for what should have been some rather serious offenses. I’ve been been incoherently drunk, I once initiated a “race” with a patrol car on a busy freeway while high, I even climbed to the top of my car and fell into my own sunroof during a late night traffic stop… needless to say, highly intoxicated. The fact that NONE of these incidences resulted in an arrest, or even a ticket, showed me that I had power.
And I despised these officers as perverts, as hypocrites, and as men interested in only the power that the badge could give them.
I’m not sure where this leads. I don’t have a strong conclusion to wrap this up with and I don’t know what kind of place, if any, I have in this fight.
But I believe in justice for all people. I believe in the inherent dignity given to all of us by our Creator, which makes us equal. I believe in Jesus, who will come to save every nation, language, tribe, ethnicity and people on this Earth.
I acknowledge my white privilege. I didn’t ask for it, I hate that it’s a part of me and that I treat it with disdain rather than leveraging it for a greater purpose. I do support the Black Lives Matter movement, because I think they absolutely matter, and I think that what’s going on out there in the law enforcement community is wrong.
This is just me getting some thoughts out. I’ve been thinking about a lot of this for a long time, and I know opinions are a dime a dozen right now, but thank you for reading.