I awoke to repeated knocking and mag lights through my window from two police officers.
I can’t remember the exact order of conversation, but “You live here?!” was asked very early on and repeated about 4 times.
“For how long!?”
We seemed to be lingering around for his shock to wear off and I was still wondering why we were all still standing around, me in my PJs.
Long story short, the alarm company got called and they have to come out to check on us, no matter what.
I heard no alarm, praise God, or I would have shouted at someone, so I was confused. My pursuit of understanding stalled our little pow wow long enough for the officer to continue to stand there shocked.
“You live here?!”
Sir, yes sir. Why have you asked me that 4 times? I didn’t call him sir. I was really tired.
“For how long?”
“Yes! (finally…) Why!?”
He pointed to his white arm.
“I just keep tabs on people. I just usually know who’s where and what…”
“Well I guess I just flew under the radar and fit right in,” I joked. I told him I’m not home a lot, and fished for words to make him feel better about the fact that a young white girl lived in his territory and he didn’t know it. Why was this such a big deal?! I wondered the whole time.
“Oh. Yes. Because I know who’s here. I keep tabs on people… The other girls?”
White. Hispanic. Black. (it seemed that’s what he was asking). 1 year. 2 years. 3 days.
“Will you ‘keep tabs’ on all of us please?”
I wish I would have said it…
And ALL of our neighbors? We love our block. We love our homes. We love our neighborhood.
I didn’t know how to take his utter shock and seeming dismay that he had failed his job by not knowing every white person on the block. That was never said directly, but the gesture to his bare arm was not pointing to any sort of watch or wristband.
White privilege is when I can open my door in the middle of the night completely un-alarmed because I know my presence disarms officers. White privilege is a cop basically apologizing for not knowing I was there for a year because he would have kept tabs on me. White privilege is being able to enter places where crime and drugs is prevalent and to be assumed as being well-meaning and of good character. Unfortunately, the opposite assumption is true of so many who don’t deserve it.
Still in my pajamas….
“With what happens up the block you know….” he said.
“Agreed. I wouldn’t live up there. I don’t think any of us, me or any of my neighbors would. Our block is quiet. That one is. That one is. We love it here! I mean, aren’t they quiet? You tell me?”
Yes, despite the stolen car you chased last week around here – I saw you all like a light show. Yes, despite whatever happens up the block, that’s not me and my neighbors’ homes, and I’m sure the homeowners up there don’t like it either. Yes, despite that you think it’s really rough around here…
Keep tabs on all of us please, we all deserve it.
Thanks for your concern.
August 4, 2016
This is one of a series of writings I haven’t posted that I finally got bold enough to share (maybe 2 AM helps with that). I pray my writing helps white people like myself recognize that prejudice and racism does exist, admit that we live with undeserved privileges that all people, if any, should have, and be stirred to action to do something to change stuff to make it better for everyone. If nothing else – I pray we at least lessen our insensitive comments and false justifications and learn to empathize, and walk with, those facing irrational injustices.
If you’ve never been a minority, you may not have even recognized your whiteness. I didn’t till I was 20. I hope to share more of my journey with you one day soon…