Stopped by Safeway after work to pick up a fruit tray for Bible study. Smiled at the cop stationed by the door. He seemed nice. Plus, isn’t it social convention to make eye contact in situations like that? He’s a police officer. You’d want to acknowledge him or thank him or something.
Outside the store, a teenage kid was beatboxing. An impromptu rap performance right there on the sidewalk. It was pretty cool. Because this is the Rainier Valley. It’s diverse and awesome.
And then it hit me. This boy–and many people in that grocery store store with me–might not have the same instinctive reaction to that nice white police officer as I did.
The high school boys I work with–most black or Samoan–and great kids, I could go on a little tangent about how awesome so many of them are–I know they don’t see that cop the same way I do.
And why should they? When a video just emerged not long ago of a white cop shooting a black man in the back 8 times as he fled. When (no matter how you or I interpret the evidence of specific cases) the main theme that these young kids have heard in the news over and over again is ‘white cop shoots unarmed black teenager’? (As black teenagers themselves, they must wonder, are they safe?)
They know there are good cops. Obviously. But they know there are also Michael Slagers in the world. And how scary would that be to go through life wondering if the cop stationed at your little hometown Safeway on was a Michael Slager?
(I am both angered and immensely relieved by the fact that) I will never have to worry about this.
I am white. I get an incredible free pass to go about life as I please, to buy fruit trays for Bible study, smile at nice police officers and go on my merry little way.
Who gave me the right to have things so easy, when so many other people will never get to enjoy my reality? What a lovely, pretty little bubble I live in.
How is that fair?