Off-Topic: White Privilege at my Mom's House

Over the past few years, there's been what seems to be a huge increase in incidents of police officers harrassing, arresting, beating up, tasing and/or flat-out shooting black people (and, admittedly, the occasional mentally-troubled white person, as if that makes the situation any better) for no particular reason. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. John Crawford III. Eric Garner. The list goes on and on.

Anyway. My mom and stepfather are snowbirds, spending the winter in a condo down south. My mom called me this afternoon because she had received a call from the alarm company: The alarm at their house in Michigan had gone off, the police had been notified and were en route to check it out. I know the alarm code and have a spare key, so she needed me to swing by to disable the alarm and see what was going on.

I showed up. No police. I checked around the house; no signs of forced entry. I unlocked the door, disabled the alarm and looked around the house; nothing seemed amiss. I went back outside; still no police. I called my mom, let her know that it appeared to be a false alarm (probably a squirrel chewing on the wire or something) and waited a few more minutes for the police to show up. They never did. Finally, I reset the alarm, locked up and left.

Now, it's possible that the cops had already been there and had left already (it took me about 15 minutes to get to my mom's house). I don't know; presumably they'll follow up with either my mom or the alarm company.

However, something occurred to me as I drove home: I'm a middle-aged white guy in a nice, fairly white area, and my mom's house is in a nice, fairly white community.

What if 1) I had been black, and 2) the police had shown up while I was anywhere near the house?

I'm not saying that I would've had my head blown off. This wasn't in Pontiac, where just walking with your hands in your pockets in cold weather can be grounds for police harassment, although Pontiac is pretty close by. I'm just saying that the fact that:

  • it never occurred to me during the time I was at her house, as well as
  • the fact that it did occur to me after I left how it might have played out if I had been black,

...are both sign of the times we live in.

That is all.