In January, my wife and I moved about five hours north of our old home. As so often happens with big moves, we ended up having a final, relatively small, load of stuff left to move. So we rented a U-Haul trailer, and made our way north with it into the falling snow.
Five hours later, exhausted, near midnight and getting close to our new home, I took a wrong turn. Oops. I ended up on a dead end road, and had to turn around with the stupid trailer. If you’ve never had to turn a trailer around on a dead end road, I don’t recommend it. Not fun.
Well, I’m not very good at turning a trailer around on a dead end road, or honestly, any other space on planet Earth, so as you might have guessed, in one of my many attempts to make the trailer turn the direction I needed it to, I somehow managed to pull the ground wire to the trailer off the car, thereby disconnecting the trailer’s lights.
I finally managed to get back on the road, when not 15 minutes from our house, I see the flashing lights in the side mirror. So I pull over and wait, asking my wife if she knew the speed limit, and babbling how I didn’t think I was going fast because of the snow.
The officer comes up, asks for my license and stuff, tells me while we’re rummaging through the glovebox that he pulled me over for no trailer lights. Meanwhile, we’re not finding our insurance card. I finally remembered Allstate had switched to cards on their app, and I hadn’t yet downloaded a copy.
The officer asks me to step out and check the trailer connection, which I do while also trying to remember my password for the app. I find the broken wire, explain how I think it happened, and show the officer. I can’t get logged into the app, so I tell the officer I am unable to provide proof of insurance. He sends me back to the car. Another police car pulls up behind the first car.
My wife and I talk nervously, wondering how big the ticket is going to be. Five minutes go by. The officer comes back to the window, and I roll it down.
He hands me my license and registration. “Okay, you can go now. Make sure you drive that trailer back to U-Haul in the morning, not tonight, that way the broken lights won’t get you pulled over again.” He chuckles. “Have a nice night.” The officer walks back to his car, leaving my wife and I to drive peacefully home. No ticket. No warning. Hell, not even a stern glance.
As we drove away, my wife and I were shaken. “Can you imagine,” she began, “Gods, if we’d been black,” I said at the same time.
I’ll spare you the entire conversation, for I’m sure you can guess at how it went, and what we are certain could have, and most certainly would have, happened to us had we not been white. But at the end of it, we both came away feeling profoundly guilty, knowing White Privilege had just REWARDED us, simply for being fucking white.
Before George Floyd’s murder, I never perceived my White Privilege, not really. It was a background expectation, an entitlement that came with my place in our culture. I grew up dirt poor, but I still knew, my entire life, I wasn’t at the bottom. I could never be at the bottom.
Another young man’s life ended at the hands of police, for yet another bullshit reason in Minnesota. This war by police on our non-white brothers and sisters MUST END.
If you know someone who doesn’t believe White Privilege is real, tell them this story, and ask them why we walked away scott free, if White Privilege doesn’t exist. And then ask them what they think would have happened, had we not been white…