When my son Stephen passed his driver’s test and got his license, it was an exciting day. He drove me home in the minivan, we celebrated and of course the second we arrived home, he went right back out to drive around by himself. Freedom!
As he pulled away in our Honda Odyssey, I stood at the front door a little freaked out. Like most parents of new drivers, I worried about him getting into an accident. That was literally my only concern.
Stephen is White.
That is the only reason why it never occurred to me to worry if he was pulled over by a police officer. I didn’t know that then, but I know that now.
“In many ways that is the insidiousness of white privilege, in that those who live within its cushion, just see it as the norm.” – Mark Sullivan
Stephen lives safely under the protection of his white privilege. And as his White parents, so do we. If our son gets pulled over for speeding, he’ll get a warning or a ticket. We’ll chalk it up as a good lesson.
When it comes to his interaction with police officers, I have no concerns for his safety.
However, I have another son, David. Thankfully, he won’t be driving for another six years, but when he does, everything will be different. I’ll have extra reasons to worry as a mom and we’ll need to have “the talk” with him. Why?
David is Black.
We’ve all read the news and have seen video footage that exposes unjust treatment of African Americans by law enforcement. It’s hard to watch and understand. And of course not every Black person has had awful experiences. But many have. It’s also unfair to demonize all police officers.
That’s why I was grateful to have the chance to ask Wesley Harris a few questions about his interactions with law enforcement.
“Dear white people: no one is saying your life can’t be hard if you’re white but it’s not hard because you’re white.” (Twitter user, Austin @kvxll)