Dear Tim Wise ,
I wanted to write you an open letter on Daily Kos because even though you were attacked for speaking the truth about racism, you are and always have been spot on in your assessment. Some people do not like hearing about White Privilege because they don't know how to process the emotional aspect of it. Others , who pursue their privilege , do not want to be reminded about why they have it because it ruins the mood for them. And others tend to have an arrogant "Don't hate me because I'm special" attitude. And some flat out deny that there is White Privilege and those are the worst ones. But I saw it with my own eyes last week.
I was recently in a traffic accident and had to go court because the rental cop (Sheriff) for the village in which the accident occurred listed on my citation , a PI (Personal Injury). That meant that I could not just pay a fine for failure to yield in an uncontrolled intersection (I did not see him because he sped around the corner and hit me) , but because someone was taken to the hospital (me) I had to appear in court and the judge had to decide my fee based on the injury (2 Tylenol) and based on the severity of the damages , I could have lost my license. In any event, I showed up at court and because my last name falls way towards the end of the alphabet, I was forced to watch over 100 court cases. And this is where my real life lesson in White Privilege began.
Many times when we think of racism in the judicial system , we think of a racist white judge rendering sentences to Blacks that do not fit the crime. But we don't think about how they came to stand before the judge. The arresting officer plays a bigger role in judicial racism than I knew. Take my case for example. The officer only issued me a citation even though the other guy was speeding and hit me. That's fine. I still failed to yield even though my vision was obstructed. The guy speeding did not get cited and because we both didn't get citations , only me ,my insurance did not pay for my damages. Only his . Now, if you think this is my big proof of racism and White Privilege, I can understand why you are laughing. But guess what ? It's not. So stop. It's just background info.
Moving on. I said my lesson on WP was learned in the courtroom watching cases. So, here goes. The room was pretty full. 60 % White/Anglo 30% Hmong/Asian 9 % Hispanic and 1% Black. Guess how many of those cases were SERIOUS DRUG and ALCOHOL related ? Guess how many of those cases were citations for only FAILURE TO SHOW PROOF OF INSURANCE ? 98% of the Hmong and Hispanic cases were cops pulling over people and citing them for not having insurance which became mandatory in June. No other violations, but that. In one case, one if the Hmong defendants actually had insurance , but the papers were in his mothers car. There were only two Blacks. Myself and one other (I think he was).
(run on sentence alert) Mine was about that accident I was in and when I explained that there was no personal injury; but that when I called 911 and told them I could not get out of the car, it was because his was blocking my door and not because I was hurt and that when the fire department showed up, they went into Hero mode and would not let me get out , but slapped the neck brace on and took me to the hospital (UP THE STREET) ...(Me thinks because they knew they'd get a quick 500 bucks from it) the judge could only fine me $88.00 and changed the citation to no injury, because there was no injury. I still paid the maximum for my circumstance. And even though he could not take my licence, I am still without a car while Blondie is no doubt speeding all over town again in his new fixed up piece of trash.
Now, who were the little druggies in the court who got off ? Oh, that would be the lovely hard working white Americans that Chuck Todd mentioned during the primaries when he talked about Wisconsin. One guy was a SEVEN time offender , a little coke head that got off again with a fine because instead of taking his ass to jail, the officer cited it as a traffic violation. Misuse of a vehicle. That's right. Misuse of a vehicle. Anyone who thinks a Black man SEVEN TIME OFFENDER getting pulled over for being under the influence of COCAINE would get a traffic ticket like that , needs to be committed.
I sat there shaking my head as one White DUI after another White DUI got a sweet gentle minimum fine and admonition to "Don't do that any more okay ?" And the citations did not fit the crime. They were on drugs. They were drunk behind the wheel and all they got was that same little MISUSE OF A MOTOR VEHICLE . So yeah, there's your White Privilege because I know if my Black behind was so much as under the influence of RX Meds, I would be in jail today awaiting trail for attempted homicide.
Mr. Wise , whenever you used to cite the stats that more Whites do drugs than Blacks even though Blacks are more likely to go to jail for it, I used to not understand how that could be and how that info could be gathered. I mean , I believed it , but I didn't know how all those white people were managing to get off without going to jail. After sitting in Traffic Court and watching a whole lot of people who should be in jail today get off with a little fine after having what should be a felony turned into a minor traffic violation by not only the traffic cop, but later the judge, I now know exactly how it's done.
And now I understand why the accident I was in was completely and utterly my fault and not BOTH of our faults.