Here’s some anecdotal stuff on white privilege… happening with poor white folk. Well in this case, political poor white folk, but…
I’m tooling along a main thoroughfare in my little town in TN, after work, tonight. Just about an hour ago. Going the speed limit. Warm night for January. The window that works is down.
I’m jamming to some loud music, just looking forward to going home and reading. Maybe I’ll take a shower.
The blue lights twinkle in my rear-view, my asshole clamps shut, and my eyes dart to my big-ol’ bag o’propaganda on the passenger seat. My journal (good GOD), my books, my SHIT.
Very calm, very steady, I pull into the parking lot of a large Bank. Mr. Piggle-Wiggle pulls in behind. The whole time I’m thinking, “do I have anything? I don’t think I have anything. Do I? No. For sure.” Cause I didn’t.
I dig my wallet out of my pocket to fish out my license. The cop is already at my window, knocking. I look up and just as I reach for the window-switch, I remember that if I roll it down it won’t go back up and then I just look at the cop all sweet-like, and say real loud in my most Eastern East-Tennessee accent, “Sir, I have to open up the door.” He nods, and so I DO, and then he says, “Hey, you got your license?” Yeah. I hand it to him.
“I pulled you over ’cause your tail lights are out. You got some ISSUES back there.” Surly. Jesus.
“Yeah, I know, I’ve had them replaced but the guy that replaced them said that it was an electrical problem and I ain’t been able to get it fixed yet.”
Got pulled over in kkKnoxville a couple months before. Cop gave me hell, said I was lucky he was nice and that he didn’t ticket me for my missing mirror. Got the shit fixed the next day, I thought.
“Well, it’s probly just the bulbs” piggles says, looks at me, squints his eyes. “Lemme run your license.”
“Alright.” (More like “awww-riiiiite,” bein’ sweet again.)
SO I’m waiting for the cop to come back, and say something about the million fucking visible violations on my little Toyota, and I’m trying to find my fucking registration and when I do I don’t recognize it, cause I washed it in my overalls after the LAST time I got pulled over, and then I found my insurance card (finally), and my hands are shaking, ’cause even though I KNOW I don’t have anything I keep asking myself “do I have anything on me???”; my kegel muscles are working in desperation trying to pull my asshole out of my guts and I’m trying to tell myself not to sweat and then tap tap tap, cop’s back.
“Here you go.” Gives me back my license. “Drive safe, and be careful, Miss.” Piggles drives away.
I slide my license back into my wallet. Hmmm. That was wierd.
Then I remember, I’ve moved back to my home-town. Some of the cops here are my relatives. Relatives who, kinda like me, work a lot and don’t really sleep much. Most of ‘em are likely to have the police scanner on all hours of the day. Lucky ‘ol me.
Lucky, indeed. There’s a lot of poor white men in my family; becoming a cop’s a good way for a poor white man (and nowadays, women do it too) to make a livin’ around here.
Cops have done some fucked-up shit to a lot of people I know, but I’m mainly scared of them because I’ve been related to them all my life and the things that cops do in their SPARE TIME scare me. I’d grown used to “big-city” cops, ones who don’t like NOBODY. I’d kinda forgotten what it’s like to be protected by the small-town pork.
I’m glad I didn’t get ticketed. I’m glad I didn’t get my shit searched, even though there wasn’t anything to find, and I’m glad I didn’t get admonished to fix my fucked-up tail lights before a bigger, badder, meaner cop pulled me over and ticketed me. Etc. and so forth. I’m glad my family watches out for me, even if most days of the week they won’t say hi when we see each other in public; don’t ever call, or come to visit.
Good ‘ol boys. They still call themselves that around here. They’re good to who they want to be good to. Tonight they were good to me, because of my family, my whiteness, my connections. Wonder how many times it’s happened and I didn’t even KNOW it? I’ve been scooting around town in my little armageddon-on-wheels for months now.
Right now I’m torn, I feel like I should either throw some Waylon Jennings into the disc-machine and jam, or shave my fucking head, you know, for the Movement.
Anyways. Hope all’s well.