Despite the statistics that police treat people of colour and indigenous people more unfairly and brutally, a reflexive defensiveness exists to discount that experience.
When people who aren’t white complain about driving while black, etc., is our initial impulse to excuse it as something else? After all, don’t we live in a post-racist society?
No. Ijeoma Oluo’s 6th chapter of So You Want to Talk About Race examines the racism inherent in authority systems.
How many white people get pulled over for little or no reason and asked why we are in a particular neighbourhood, whether we’ve been drinking, if there is smell of pot in the car, or if there are any weapons or illegal substances in the car? Maybe the drinking question is there in a weekend night police roadblock checking everyone, but white people get asked these questions less than people of colour.
I drive without living in a state of terror. I walk the streets not worried that the police will randomly demand my i.d. and reason for being ANYWHERE. I don’t ever wonder if I can reach for my glove compartment if pulled over, without being summarily executed.
When systemic racism is firing on all bloody cylinders, I don’t need to worry about these things. But others do because the system is designed to terrorize them.
So when you witness white people trying to delegitimize experiences of racist police brutality, we need to step in and call it out as, frankly, ignorant. Ignorant of lived experience, statistics, and what racial and social reconciliation require.