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These days, I’m everybody’s Auntie. Nodding at the neighbors as they walk by. Smiling at new mothers with their strollers and Shih Tzus. Shaking my head only to gently remind passing cars of the speed limit. There was a day though, let me tell you. There was a time when I was a leadfoot with the need for speed. People can never believe this as they look at me now with my cardigans and cat’s eye glasses, a Nana if ever there was one.

But it’s true. I got pulled over for speeding so many times, I kept my license, insurance and registration paper-clipped in the center console for easy officer-viewing. Heck, I got pulled over so many times I knew that you could speak to the prosecutor right before your court appearance and tell him you’ll plead guilty in exchange for not getting points on your license.

Let me tell you. I was as guilty as the day is long. Guilty as sin, every time. I was pulled over by officers of all different demographics: old, young, male, female, Black, White, Hispanic. Out of the dozen or so times I was pulled over for speeding, I only got a couple of tickets. Back in the day, I could flutter a mean eyelash when I wanted to. I knew how to launch a charm offensive in a pinch. Here’s the thing. Never once, when I was pulled over, did I fear getting shot. And I was guilty on all counts.

That’s how I know white privilege is real. I don’t say it to knock my own race. I’m not trying to implicate all police officers. But if you can’t be safe in your own car, or as happened recently, in your own home, the system has really got to change.

Irony oh irony.  Miss Ruth’s post on prison and second chances had me shaking my head when I saw it this morning.

Yesterday, we had another meeting at church to discuss Waking Up White.  The book discusses one upper middle class white woman’s awakening to the racial issues and social injustice in the US.  One of the many things we discussed was the prison system.  The topic that led into this was whether or not the police deal with African-American youth fairly.

One of the women told us about her daughter and a group of friends being stopped by the police as they walked home. Yes, there had been a series of break-ins in the area so talking to the teens was in order.  But the police were noticeably aggressive with the one young many who also happens to be African-American.  Coincidence?  Hardly.  Add to this the fact that the suspects in the break-ins were white and . . . yes, they were white.  So treating that one teen differently than the rest makes even less sense.

It isn’t enough to notice when you are treated unfairly.  We need to wake up.  We need to see how those around us are treated.  And while we are at it we should share some second chances.  There’s no reason that those of us slowly awaking should get them all.



Have a Mary Little Christmas

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