I am a bad driver. Not a dangerous driver, not a speed demon, or someone who does not know how to use blinkers. My driving is generally good, unfortunately with driving it is the little moments that lower your overall score. I sometimes fail to check my blind spot when merging. I honk when a car could scootch up some. And sometimes, though more rarely now, I drive through a crosswalk when a pedestrian is waiting.
So sometimes law enforcement is nearby enough to stop me. And I get pulled over, my heart races a little, I have a hard time facing with authority figures. And nine times our of ten, I get a pass, a deduction in the ticket, and a little moralizing tale about slowing down, or how patience is a virtue. And off I go, a bad driver, with a decent record, protected by the invaluable bigotry in favor of cute white girls.
In the ever-present mirror that white privilege shines on my experiences, driving offers one of the most glaring optical illusions.
Studies, statistics, and police records aside, simply look at the cars pulled over on the side of the road. If you actually look the pattern will become clear. Unless you are a man of color, then you already know this truth. And I am not trying to speak this experience, I have no idea how men of color keep their cool in the face of such obvious bigotry.
My friend noted the other evening that white privilege boils down to a entitled sense of obliviousness. White people don’t have to consider the injustice this world is built on. We can go on our merry ways with the security of knowing that our safety of mind, body and spirit will not be attacked. We can count on people in positions of authority or simply within the bureaucracy will listen to us and give us the benefit of the doubt.
The benefit of the doubt, I believe is one of most taken for granted aspects of being a white person in this world. White people can speak on something or do something without an attached suspicion. I can drive in my car without the fear of getting arrested for speaking in the wrong tone or having an expired license. I can drive my car without ever being questioned if it is actually my car. I have never once thought that a police officer was going to ask me to get out of the car or could lay their hands on me. People give me the benefit of the doubt, they look at a cute white girl and figure she’s probably not doing anything wrong. Men of color live on the other side of the looking glass, where the smallest of actions can trigger the hatred of a bigot.