This is an example of white privilege
“What is white privilege?”
I receive this question in my ask box at least once a month. Either that, or the statement that it doesn’t exist.
Well, let me give you an idea.
I went to Cheyenne this weekend to a political meet and greet, then decided to meet up with some pals at a dive bar that evening. I was heading down Pershing St. through a residential neighborhood, window down, smoking a cigarette, and listening to Dead Prez. Loud. It was dusk and nice and cool, so why not?
Suddenly, two cruisers pulled up behind me. Mind you, I was going maybe 31 in 30. I slowed to exactly 30. One officer pulled up beside me on the driver’s side in a 20 mph zone, and rolled down his passenger side window. He peered into the driver’s side of my car. His compadre was right on my bumper. The cop next to me flicked off his flashight, stuck his hand out of the driver’s side window, and waved back at the other officer, who proceeded to back off. They fell back, and within a block, they were both gone.
Why is this an example of white privilege? As analyzed by a pal of mine, Daymon, who is a person of color and went to high school in Cheyenne:
“1. Your first thought was that you were speeding, not driving while Black. Like me. That’s the flank move. Assuming they’re gonna need backup because your ass IS GETTING PULLED OVER.
2. You never turned the music down or anything. Why would you? It’s not like it suddenly made you more Black, unlike me. And by that, I mean a dangerous, suspicious Black man in a mostly white neighborhood. I’m probably there to do something to their daughters, you know? Doesn’t matter I was a loan officer in town when I moved back. A professional. Who lived in that neighborhood. I was just a snazzy-dressed uppity negro in a nice car daring to roll through their neighborhood.
3. When they found out you were white, you got a golden ticket instead of one for noise ordinance. I know a bunch of guys who got tickets for noise in white neighborhoods, even though we had our shit lower than their precious lily-white Ashleys and Dakotas listening to Eminem or some shit emo. If it had a beat, and you’re Black, obviously you’re a gangsta looking to deal those kids dope.
4. You wondered what the hell happened and shrugged it off. I don’t get that luxury.
In summary, congratulations, you’re white. Please move to the front of the line.”
I would imagine he’s not the only man who’s experienced this, nor the only person of color. And that, my friends, is an example of white privilege and its not-so-subtle benefits. I feel like an asshole for not recognizing it off the bat for what it was — like I said, I thought I was getting a speeding ticket.
And anyone who claims we live in post-racial America, well, I invite you to drive down Pershing Ave. listening to hip-hop — or another major residential street in a “nice” neighborhood. Daymon said he’s been pulled over on that street every single time he’s been home to visit family, even when listening to NPR — as he said, “it isn’t the stereo, it’s the skin, but listening to loud hip-hop isn’t going to plead my case for being a ‘legitimate’ Black man. This shit doesn’t happen in Denver. As much.”
Do it. See if you get flanked. Two cops having a bad night, a good night, or yet another example of systemic racism? You can probably guess where I stand.
The Police Were Never Intended to Protect Us.
I see people rushing in to claim that Dion’s post has to be wrong/the anger last night was unfair to the families of cops/it’s wrong to blame white/any people for what the cops do/well he might have had a gun at some point/the cops were doing their job/he looks like an adult so why at like he’s young (apparently puberty immediately renders black people dangerous criminals)/the news says something else happened and it must be right etc. Because you handcuff corpses right? wait, no you don’t so if he was in cuffs & dead? He was killed in those cuffs. Just like Oscar Grant.
I’m over here laughing in a graveyard sort of way because I remember the initial news spin given to the media by police spokesmen to cover up what happened to Lenard Clark, Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima, Sean Bell, Kathryn Johnston, Aiyana Jones, Rekia Boyd, Oscar Grant, Timothy Stansbury, Rodney King & Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. I remember the Burge torture cases here in Chicago & the two boys under 10 who were coerced into confessing to a murder they couldn’t have committed & how that experience ruined their lives. I can think of half a dozen deaths over the years that I know about where the body on the ground wasn’t armed/was mentally ill/called the police for help & died because of it.
Google inner city kids and PTSD sometime, note the plethora of studies showing that they’re essentially living in war zones & instead of kneejerking to blame gangs & parents start asking questions about how those neighborhoods got that way. Ask about Stop & Frisk policies (pro tip it doesn’t just happen in New York), racial profiling & who is more likely to be afraid of the police than to trust them. Ask yourself about the policy of silence in many communities when it comes to crime & ask yourself how that community norm was created. Ask yourself about how the police were first formed (look up paddy rollers & their connection to paid policing) & whether their purpose has ever really been to protect everyone. Finally ask yourself how many abuses, how many deaths of POC have to happen before the conversation is actually about what the police are doing to communities & not about whether or not you love your dad/uncle/cousin/mom/friend that’s a cop & totally not like the cops in these not so isolated incidents.
NY TIMES: "Last year, (New York City) police officers stopped nearly 686,000 people, 84 percent of them black or Latino. The vast majority — 88 percent of the stops — led to neither an arrest nor a summons, although officers said they had enough reasonable suspicion to conduct a frisk in roughly half of the total stops, according to statistics provided by the New York Police Department and the Center for Constitutional Rights."
"My name is Kenneth Chamberlain. This is my sworn testimony. White Plains police are going to come in here and kill me." - and that’s just what they did.
The opening quote, above, was related to us by Kenneth Chamberlain Jr, when he appeared on the “Democracy Now!” news hour talking about the police killing of his father. Chamberlain Jr was holding on to the LifeAid pendant that his father wore around his neck in case of a medical emergency. Perhaps unbeknown to the White Plains police who arrived at Chamberlain Sr’s door that morning, the LifeAid system includes a box in the home that, when activated, transmits audio to the LifeAid company, where it is recorded. Chamberlain Jr and his lawyers heard the recording in a meeting at the office of the Westchester county district attorney, Janet DiFiore.
Chamberlain Jr repeated what he heard his father say on the tape: “He says, ‘I’m a 68-year-old man with a heart condition. Why are you doing this to me?’ … You also hear him pleading with the officers again, over and over. And at one point, that’s when the expletive is used by one of the police officers.” One of Chamberlain Jr’s lawyers, Mayo Bartlett, told me about the racial slur. Bartlett is a former Westchester county prosecutor, so he knows the ropes. He was explicit in recounting what he heard on the recording.
“Kenneth Chamberlain Sr said to the police, ‘I’m a sick old man.’ One of the police officers replied, ‘We don’t give a fuck, nigger!’” The recording also includes a taunt from the police, as related by Bartlett, “Open the door, Kenny, you’re a grown-ass man!” It was when Chamberlain Jr related how the police mocked his father’s military service that he broke down. “He said, ‘Semper fi.’ So they said, ‘Oh, you’re a marine. Hoo-rah. Hoo-rah.’ And this is somebody that served this country. Why would you even say that to him?” Chamberlain Jr wept as he held his father’s marine ring and veterans administration card.
Sheriff (Joe) Arpaio, the top law enforcement official in sprawling Maricopa County, is perhaps best known for his hard-nosed treatment of prisoners and his aggressive raids aimed at illegal immigrants. But it is his department’s lackadaisical approach to more than 400 sex-crimes cases that has Sheriff Arpaio, 79, in trouble.
His deputies failed to investigate or conducted only the sketchiest of inquiries into hundreds of sex crimes between 2005 and 2007, investigations by Arizona law enforcement agencies have shown. Many of those cases involved molested children.
The cases were first reported several months ago in the local media but resurfaced in a recent article by The Associated Press, which prompted Sheriff Arpaio to defend himself at a news conference. “If there were any victims, I apologize to those victims,” he said on Monday, vowing to hold deputies accountable.
But his grudging mea culpa only incited more outrage.
“A sincere apology and acceptance of responsibility from Joe Arpaio to these victims would have been the professional and compassionate thing to do,” Bill Louis, a former assistant police chief at the El Mirage Police Department, wrote Thursday in the Arizona Republic. “But instead we once again witnessed Arpaio’s smug and defiant attitude — this time directed towards the very victims he neglected.”
Another Example of Why All Public Officials Should Be Eligible For Recall
Liberals, progressives, fiscal conservatives, and government watchdog groups are in an uproar this morning, after the The Daily Beast reported that the NYPD spends approximately half a million dollars, annually, protecting Fox News’ headquarters.
from The Daily Beast:
Down at Rupert’s News Corp. headquarters on Sixth Ave.–which has never been a terrorist or protest target of any significance–the media empire is guarded by a 24-hour-a-day New York Police Department security detail seven days a week, a patrol that one security expert estimated costs the city at least half a million dollars a year.
No other news network gets comparable NYPD protection, although a police department spokesman suggested in an email to the Daily Beast that they did. As best we could decipher a rationale for this extraordinary sentry at the gates of the Fox empire, it appears to be fueled by the security obsession of Fox News chief Roger Ailes.
As HuffPo noted in their coverage, this story is troubling, primarily, because it seems dishonest at best. Several other major networks refute the claim, by NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Paul Browne, that the News Corp building and Fox News are not the only media outlets to receive police protection. Security experts from ABC, CBS, and NBC all confirmed that their respective networks private security at the expense of the network. The representative from ABC, according to the HuffPo reporter, seemed unaware of the program’s existence at all.
But in my personal opinion, the biggest problem here is that the constant, heightened, security detail is a result of Roger Ailes’ absurd levels of paranoia.
This is a man who installed bombproof glass in his office to protect him from “those gays”, possesses a “carry business” concealed weapon license in New York, moved the newsroom into an underground bunker of sorts, is convinced that Al Qaeda is targeting him for assassination, and built a subterranean research/panic room for good measure. The same man who’s network has become a conservative propaganda-machine, constantly railing against the evils of government spending.
The same government spending currently paying for News Corp’s security detail.
Now Police Commissioner Kelly, the same Police Commissioner who stood idly by on his Blackberry while his officers brutalize peaceful protesters, cannot possibly justify this misuse of taxpayers money and resources. The News Corp building has never been the target, or even threatened to be the target, of a credible terrorism plot. Other networks have managed to maintain safe, secure work environments while retaining their own security services. And while his son may not work in the same building, the fact that ‘Good Morning New York’-host Greg Kelly is on Ailes’ payroll does nothing to remove the perception that News Corp and Fox News are receiving special treatment from the NYPD.
Regardless of how this story ends, it’s another prime example of why American citizens should be able to recall any public official that they believe is unfit to continue in their position. Without anyone to hold them accountable, other than the official(s) who appointed them, why/how are we to trust that appointed officials are working in our best interests?
Perhaps Professor Eugene O’Donnell said it best:
“There are always questions when public money is being used that collide with this whole idea that there are legitimate reasons to not disclose why it’s being used, or how it’s being used,” he said. “It’s sort of a collision between the public’s right to know and their maintaining that they don’t publicly discuss security. I think that’s what they’re basically saying–they don’t publicly discuss security.
“And obviously,” O’Donnell said, “the important question would be, if they don’t discuss it with you, who do they discuss it with? Or is it the fact that they don’t discuss it with anyone, such as the council or some other oversight body? Is it just something that they have carte blanche to do as they see fit?
“The larger question of all is,” he said, “in an era of terrorism, is there no scrutiny at all of these things? And it sounds like there’s not. In a post-9/11 era, is no one allowed to ask the question, why is this detail here? Or is everything just tip-top secret and can’t be elaborated on?”