I watched the first cruiser from the big city police department pull up along the curb in front of our house in the suburbs. He was on the wrong side of the street when he parked. People don’t park on the wrong side of the street around here.
A second police car pulled up from the opposite direction and went nose to nose with the first cruiser across our driveway opening. Curious. No. It was way more than curious. What the heck!?
I met both officers at the door. With grim faces they asked if the car parked in the driveway was mine. I answered them. Yes, it’s mine.
It was so odd. I don’t suppose it’s their job to block my driveway and then be friendly, but why? I was confused. And I admit that I do not care for authority figures pushing their power energy over me. I felt it and for what? Why? Bad start. I took a deep breath, kept my cool and listened.
One asked if I drove the vehicle at approximately 5 PM that evening.
The second officer took up the conversation. He said witnesses claimed that the vehicle was involved in an accident then left the scene at the intersection of High Street and Fifth Avenue.
“It couldn’t have. It was at the high school with my son. He drove it to volleyball practice.”
He asked if my son was home. He wanted to speak with him.
“No. I will not let you speak with him until I speak with my husband.”
Why couldn’t have I just have said NO. My son was only 17. Sighs.
I had no reason to imagine the worst but I was a bit afraid of those two. They were from Columbus, not my suburb. The worst scenario might have been those two cuffing my son and hauling him away. Or worse, pushing him to the ground and possibly leading to struggles and injuries. Or who know’s what?! My imagination worked overtime…. this was so totally out of my experience.
I felt protective of my minor son.
I didn’t want to “turn him over”.
I was very concerned.
I wanted to stretch the conversation as long as I could while I thought about the details of the afternoon and evening.
Don’t we all agree that our kids can be pretty good at hiding their wrongdoings? We know that everybody lies. Everybody covers their asses.
The Benefit of the Doubt
Without going out to look at the car I was
very sure that my 17-year-old son was not in a hit and run accident and was not in that urban intersection just four miles from our quiet suburban neighborhood.
That evening at about 5:00 he parked in the drive and, singing a song, came in the door with a hi Mom and a hug.
“Practice was great!”
More humming and singing and up the stairs he went to putter in his room until dinner time. He wouldn’t have been so happy and carefree if he’d done the deed described by those officers.
Then, while I stalled a little longer, a third cruiser pulled up. The officer from our suburban police department seemed more relaxed than the other two as he stepped up onto the porch. The three of them gathered for a quick conversation.
I called up to my son. “Honey, can you come to the top of the stairs please?”
Waits. “The police are here and they say that your car was involved in an accident at Fifth and High at about 5:00 this afternoon.”
“What? No! I wasn’t! Mom! I was at practice! They can call my coach and ask him.”
“Would you please come down to talk to the officers and we will show them the car?”
Down the stairs he ran. We walked together around the corner of the house to the garage where my son pointed out all the little dings in the paint. The suburban cop said oh heck, the witnesses described leaking fluids and a broken headlight. Nothing wrong with this car. Anyhow, we only had a partial plate number.
It was over. But what if we hadn’t been white?
Why is it So Hard to Understand
My brother and I, his daughter and her toddler went apple picking. Like many young people just starting out, my niece struggles. We talked a little bit about white privilege. She said she’s white and poor and doesn’t feel privileged at all. Aren’t rich people the ones who are privileged?
Not in this instance. It has less to do with economic status and more to do with the advantage of being born white. Think about it. It may seem like a very small advantage for some but it’s still there. Doesn’t a white American have the privilege of more doors opening just than a black American?
Is it an issue of conservative versus liberal, right-wing versus left? It shouldn’t be. It’s a human issue, an American issue.
Let’s pick some more apples.
Help Us Understand
In her December 4, 2014 post, The Intellectual Condescension of White Liberals, blogger Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein offers some insight to the questions many white Americans have about the tragic deaths of black males reported lately in our news. If you consider yourself as more to the right than liberal, please do not be put off by the use of “liberal” in her title. Food for thought comes in many wrappers.
My way of life and yours will not go away by learning and understanding. Equal treatment does not mean your rights and privileges will go away.
If you look up from your tablet or TV or newspaper and say things like he must have been doing something wrong or he didn’t listen, he probably wore his pants down past his butt crack, white people get killed by the police too but the liberal media won’t report it, have a look. Many struggle to understand.
White Privilege. Me
There is a constant lump in my throat and a heaviness pushing on my chest. The intensity of the world pushes in on me.
I’m not a newsie or a politico. I don’t consider myself a liberal or conservative or a Republican or a Democrat. I don’t confine myself to the identity assigned by the broad meaning of one or the other labels.
I hardly feel qualified to comment on news events yet today I feel that I must. There is only strength and compassion to be gained in expanding our knowledge and understanding of others.
Nobody is going to diminish or take away your hard-earned way of life if you try to understand racism, sexism and gender issues from another point of view.
Let’s set aside our one-way-isms and flaming remarks so that we may continue to heal the racial divide that began centuries ago that still influences all of us today.
Some babies popped out of the birth canal with a toolbox of invisible privileges that give a hand up in nearly every part of life.
Maybe understanding is the first step to really realizing that “all men are created equal”.
I used to live in a posh upper-middle class mostly white suburb. Ten years ago my son and I had a visit from the three police officers about a hit and run accident. Can you see how things might have played out differently if the woman and young man were not white from the mostly white suburb?