Dixie Darr

White in America

In Denver, spirituality on July 6, 2017 at 6:55 am

My dear friend, a 66-year-old black ordained minister feared for her life Friday night after being stopped by a police officer. Maybe you read her words that I re-posted here yesterday. It was late at night, and she was leaving the theater where she had just seen Wonder Woman when a large black truck blocked her exit from the parking lot.
As she watched the white officer walk toward her, she asked God if this would be the way her life ended. She thought of all the innocent black people who had been murdered by police in just such a trivial traffic stop and wondered if her name would be added to that long list.
I cannot imagine the terror she felt. When I’m stopped by the police, my first thought is usually, “How much is this going to cost me?” not “Will I live through this?” That’s pretty much the definition of white privilege. I don’t have to worry that someone might want to kill me because of the color of my skin.
This incident did not turn deadly. The officer merely told my friend that she hadn’t turned on her headlights and wished her a good evening. For that, I and all the people who love her feel eternal gratitude.
I want to apologize to her and my other black friends for all the insensitive things I’ve said and done. You know I try not to be racist, but I know that we both live in a racist society, so things come out of my mouth that I don’t even realize are offensive. I’m sorry, and I promise that (to paraphrase Maya Angelou) when I know better, I’ll do better.
The officer probably saw the fear on her face and carried that with him on his patrol. It can’t feel good to know that someone is terrified of you when you only want to help. I’m sorry about that, and I am thankful for the legions of good cops who don’t target black people. But until these things stop happening, until my friend can feel safe going to a movie, don’t ask me to re-post those memes in support of the police. Until they hold themselves to a standard of human decency and weed out the bad seeds instead of helping them avoid prosecution or conviction, I don’t support them.
Every time I see a police officer, I’ll wonder, “Are you a good guy or a bad guy?” And I’ll err on the side of caution.


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