The Talk: how to de-escalate a situation, for young people of color
July 15, 2013 7:41 AM   Subscribe

"It's a lesson that many of us got from out folks at some point, often before we got that other uncomfortable parent-child conversation about the birds and the bees. Don't move suddenly. Answer questions clearly, and with yes, sir and no, sir. Don't raise your voice. If you're handcuffed, don't say anything until we [your parents] get there. The details differed depending on where you lived and your parents' particular concerns, but the point was for us to get through any encounter with the police without incident."

NPR recently ran a series of pieces on what parents tell their children, especially in families of color.
posted by filthy light thief (52 comments total) 62 users marked this as a favorite

 
For me, the talk was about getting a receipt when leaving stores. One time I didn't and my parents had a complete fit, as I had no proof that I had actually paid for the items (I think it was candy from a connivence store), so any cop could toss me in jail for stealing. Naturally I thought they were being ridiculous, but it made sense later.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:51 AM on July 15, 2013 [32 favorites]


The Talk: What Did You Tell Your Kids After The Zimmerman Verdict?, opening with Levar Burton's comments on driving while black

If you want further proof as to how wonderful Burton can be (modified for clarity):

"@OnPointCelebz: @levarburton How do we teach our young black youth that their life is meaningful?"

One hug at a time!

posted by zombieflanders at 7:55 AM on July 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


The twitter response thing in the first NPR link where the parent of a white child tweets about their own son crying because he'd won the cosmic lottery and couldn't share was both terribly sad and terribly hopeful. I'm kind of glad I don't have kids, because hell if I know what I could say.
posted by immlass at 8:04 AM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


The "church ready" look was something I noticed in Disney World, where you had people from all over on vacation. Everywhere we went, the darker your pigmentation, the more immaculate everyone was dressed. It was kind of creepy, but the impression I got was that the pale people didn't feel like they had to prove they had the right to be there.

The closest I can think of is the class related dance to avoid being seen as lower class, something I've had to deal with. I constantly worry I look shabby, because I associate it with the poverty I grew up with.
posted by Phalene at 8:06 AM on July 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


I heard some of these on NPR. Ever since I first learned about this kind of talk a few years ago it's made me very sad.

And it makes me sadder that there are many people, some of who I actually know, who think this is black people making a big deal out of nothing and/or that black parents really don't have these talks with their kids, it's just a media thing.

What on earth do you even say in the face of such ignorance? It's one thing to call people out for making racist jokes, but when people refuse to acknowledge a deep and abiding racism in our society...when they think that because they don't use racial slurs they're not prejudiced...I just don't even know what to say.

I can't even come up with a creative analogy because my brain is just broken lately.
posted by sio42 at 8:09 AM on July 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


The advice I've found to be good when being pulled over is to turn off the car, roll down the window and keep your hands on the steering wheel. Don't reach over to the glove compartment for papers before the officer arrives, and announce what you're going to do and move slowly. Be deliberate enough that the officer gets a little embarrassed (if they're not a jerk) and tells you it's okay. Putting hands outside the car seems really uncomfortable, but it does seem safer.

I agree that men walking behind women in isolated/dark areas should find another route out of consideration or at least let them gain distance. Even walking to the shared lot at 5pm behind women who aren't my co-workers, I get the furtive looks.
posted by michaelh at 8:37 AM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


CNN hosted a talk on "N WORD VS 'CRACKER' WHICH IS WORSE"?

My mind is blown. For whom is that a question?
posted by pmv at 8:41 AM on July 15, 2013 [23 favorites]


What on earth do you even say in the face of such ignorance?

Two words: racial profiling.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:44 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


what? seriously what?? wow.

Since people still can't even say "Nigger" and must resort to "N word" I think that answers that question.
posted by sweetkid at 8:44 AM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yes, that CNN panel did happen, less than a month ago.

Since people still can't even say "Nigger" and must resort to "N word" I think that answers that question.

Exactly. Or said less politely, "probably the one you won't spell out, you fucking hacks."
posted by filthy light thief at 8:46 AM on July 15, 2013 [52 favorites]


If you're asking which word is worse, it's the one you can't actually print.
On preview: What the previous posters said.
posted by Crash at 8:47 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


When my (white) kids were teenagers, I got "Busted" and made them watch it, and encouraged them to lend it to all their friends -- I also lent it to our (non-white) neighbors. It is important to know how to deal with the police no matter who you are, and that was missing from my own early education.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 8:48 AM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


As a school teacher, I used to lecture my students on "not failing the attitude test" in police encounters.

It pissed me off that my miscreants were at risk of arrest, beatings and even death, just because they were people of color, or immigrants or both.

There were times that I wondered if I were being racist, but then I thought, it's more important that these kids learn how to protect their rights and their bodies and we can worry about racism after that.

It just pisses me off so fucking much!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:49 AM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The closest I can think of is the class related dance to avoid being seen as lower class, something I've had to deal with. I constantly worry I look shabby, because I associate it with the poverty I grew up with.

Yea, seconding this.

Hopefully not undermining the point of the post, since I'm native american but appear as white by most folk's definition, but my dad gave me a version of this talk as well. That selfsame message to have a a healthy distrust of people in positions of power was also passed on from relatives who are older and were mistreated and/or ignored because of their, more traditionally native american, appearance.

The basic gist of the talk my dad gave wasn't necessarily color based, obviously since I get most of my native american features/genetics from mom's side, but was basically geared toward caution towards police while being... the other and/or 'non-white upper-middle class'. Some of the many phases dad went through, included biker tag-along, hippy with beard/long hair, what have you, and his stories of treatment by cops during interactions with them is terrifying enough. The time he was severely beaten by two officers while handcuffed is the worst and the one that sticks with him, and me, the most.

Rant continuing, be warned....

More insidiously, another of his stories involved his getting his job at the power plant he worked at and progressing through the ranks from helper -> full fledged mechanic. Then noticing that there were zero black mechanics and few, if any, white helpers. This situation being independent of the fact that many of the black helpers had been helpers for 10, 15, or 20 years. "They would retire as helpers even though they were better mechanics than half of the white guys there." To throw salt in their wounds, the way most jobs were assigned was that mechanics were paired with helpers to complete tasks, so not only were the black, older, more-skilled helpers screwed with regards to pay and all the other things that come with promotion, they had to work under people who were at best indifferent to their situation/plight or at worst they themselves racist and abusive.

Shortly after dad became a mechanic he was paired with a helper nicknamed Shorty. Shorty was black and much older than dad. They went out to do a given job and dad was debating about how to best go about it and asked Shorty for his advice. I think dad may even have messed something up and then asked Shorty what he'd do in this situation. Shorty was demure but communicated something to the tune of "Well, I'd do it this way but you're the mechanic and I'm glad to do it however you want." Dad, doing what he later learned was unheard of, said "Shorty you can always tell me how to do something, you've probably forgotten more about how to do this job than I'll probably ever know and I ain't scared to say it."

Thereafter, and until Shorty's retirement (as a helper, fuck this, but it's true), when jobs were handed out and the helpers were being assigned/asked for preferences, no matter how crappy the job dad (his nickname was Oink) was assigned, Shortly would say "I'll be with Oink."

Dad took me out to meet Shorty at his retirement party and whenever we passed through his part of town for years after. They were great friends but it's terribly sad that's that is considered a happy ending for a black individual in that time/place. I hope, suppose things have changed for the better, but there's still a long, long way to go.

I like to think his experiences led me to be raised in the way I was, namely being a southern white person raised to love and comprehend the troubles of black people. It sucks to think about this stuff but I'm thankful for the perspective his talk, and my other experiences/heritage, has granted. People of color, you have my sympathy. Yet again, thanks mom and dad.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:53 AM on July 15, 2013 [53 favorites]


I'm listening to Brian Lehrer on NPR right now, and he played a clip of levar burton talking about the ritual he went through whenever he got stopped by a cop (hat off, glasses off, hands outside window) and all I could think was that there is no reason that Geordie fucking Laforge should HAVE to worry about this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:57 AM on July 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


CNN hosted a talk on "N WORD VS 'CRACKER' WHICH IS WORSE"?

This was mentioned on this week's On the Media, which prompted host Brooke Gladstone to snort derisively "Oh come on!"
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:04 AM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, that CNN panel did happen, less than a month ago.

I only saw bits of it, but it was actually pretty good, despite the awful title. There was a lot of honest, good talk about situations and experiences.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:07 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "n-word".....I hate to sound like one of those pantloads denouncing "political correctness", but I'm starting to think that the project of improving humanity by cleaning up its vocabulary just isn't working. I suppose it is good that people who want to speak in racial slurs have to worry about who might hear them, though. The message is, this is not OK, and society rejects it.
posted by thelonius at 9:07 AM on July 15, 2013


What always strikes me about the rules as they are described is how much in common they have with the advice my well-travelled father gave me about traveling in a police state.

Mediocre places to visit, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to live there.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:09 AM on July 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


A friend of mine who grew up in DC, he is pushing 70 now, grew up with his parents telling him never to run when in public. My heart dropped when he told me this, and my eyes opened quite a bit. A kid never being able to run around in his own neighborhood for fear of being taken for a criminal, getting shot, or chased by a do gooder? Wow..

Sad, things have not changed much.
posted by snaparapans at 9:24 AM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


An older black couple moved into my parents' neighborhood in a Mid-Atlantic state. They were both professional people and both of them held PhDs in their respective fields. By every socio-economic measure they outclassed the average residents of the neighborhood by miles, but that didn't stop people from speculating, in front of my parents, whether the property values would be lowered by their arrival. I was in awe of the stupidity. You dumb bastards, your presence is lowering the value of their house. But that's still not how it works, is it?

As a young punk I was not treated kindly by the cops, but my costume was something I could pack up and put away. I think it's really kind of impossible to understand this unless you've lived someplace you were a visible minority. A (white) friend's surprised report about the police in Hawaii being incredibly rude to her, about people not wanting to sit next to her on the bus is probably about as close as it's going to get while remaining in the USA. Most people never notice that this shit is happening to people until it happens to them.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:36 AM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Cannot favor the Lavar Burton comment on 'Driving while Black' enough.
posted by buzzman at 9:37 AM on July 15, 2013


Yes, that CNN panel did happen, less than a month ago.

I only saw bits of it, but it was actually pretty good, despite the awful title. There was a lot of honest, good talk about situations and experiences.


I'm fairly certain CNN has a policy that if producers insist on offering any quality programming, the title and headline have to be horrible.
posted by duffell at 9:40 AM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Most people never notice that this shit is happening to people until it happens to them.

The best definition of privilege I've read recently is "the assumption that something is not a problem because it is not a problem for you."
posted by janey47 at 9:46 AM on July 15, 2013 [42 favorites]


Most people never notice that this shit is happening to people until it happens to them.

Definitely. Brandon Blatcher's story about the receipts resonated with me because I knew a white guy stopped by the cops on a harassment traffic stop who was asked to provide a receipt for the laptop on the front seat of his car. Realizing how many of my white male friends got harassed by cops for long hair was eye-opening, and was a piece of putting together how shitty black and brown folks have it when dealing with the cops.
posted by immlass at 9:49 AM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Re the dressing-up-to-go-out thing. Sadly, this backfires on people like my (yep, racist) mom, who always made snide comments about black people spending all their money on flashy clothes. As opposed to what, well, that was never stated. Come to think of it, she was pretty resentful about a black person having anything; cars, wealth, fame. All elicited mean comments.

I had wondered about why so many black families did put so much emphasis on clothes since then, but just assumed it was an expression of pride or high standards. I had never thought it stemmed from a fear of being seen as unworthy to be somewhere.

So hey, found something I didn't know was in my backpack. No matter how shabby I dress, I can still hang out most places without getting hassled.
posted by emjaybee at 9:58 AM on July 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Oh man, Tim Wise's story about the NOPD at the end of the Levar Burton video is wild. He's trying to break into his car, and without checking for ID or ownership of the car, a cop comes up and starts trying to help him break into a car. Talk about privilege.
posted by mrgoat at 10:02 AM on July 15, 2013


A friend of mine who grew up in DC, he is pushing 70 now, grew up with his parents telling him never to run when in public. My heart dropped when he told me this, and my eyes opened quite a bit. A kid never being able to run around in his own neighborhood for fear of being taken for a criminal, getting shot, or chased by a do gooder? Wow..

oh, and I though it obvious, but maybe not: He is black.
posted by snaparapans at 10:03 AM on July 15, 2013


A lawyer friend of mine once gave me the rundown on how I - a white, "respectable"-looking man - don't have to worry about a lot of police harassment bullshit that non-whites have to take into account as a matter of course. Before he moved into another line of lawyering, a lot of his cases were defending young black guys who got pulled over for no good reason and arrested when the car was searched and a couple of joints or something were found. This, he told me, would never, ever happen to me unless I was doing something dramatic (like, say, weaving all over the road) to draw attention to myself.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:03 AM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I never received the talk and if I have children they won't receive the talk either. Growing up as the children of a member of the Nation of Islam, my brothers and I received quite a few talks about the juxtaposition of brown and white people in American society, but none of them suggested any responsibility on our part toward deference. Consequently, any sort of obviously race related stop by the police or security guards or whoever generally results in them getting very annoyed with me.

I've written on Metafilter about being questioned while my white fiance and I were in an empty parking lot in broad daylight- he was about to give me a driving lesson and I was standing on the passenger side leaning in with the door open leaning in talking to him while he was sitting in the drivers seat. At one point a cop took my fiance to the side and softly said that he'd wanted to make sure that my fiance was okay. Once I heard this, any inclination I might have had toward deference went out the window (and to be honest that inclination, as mentioned, is extremely slight). That was a fucked up thing to say and that cop deserved to know that it was fucked up.

I fully 100% understand the safety concerns that come along with darker pigment and people in authority, and I fully 100% stand with those who do choose deference, but I also think it's just as valid to stand up for oneself and to make those in authority think twice about pulling that sort of shit on people for no reason.

I also understand that being female makes these stands easier as does, almost always, being in the company of white people. I have no idea how my brothers interact with people in authority, but I hope it's a mixture of not behaving in a way that gets them shot (so far so good), but also not behaving in a way that makes people in authority think they have a right to harass people of color.
posted by eunoia at 10:06 AM on July 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Re the dressing-up-to-go-out thing. Sadly, this backfires on people like my (yep, racist) mom, who always made snide comments about black people spending all their money on flashy clothes. As opposed to what, well, that was never stated. Come to think of it, she was pretty resentful about a black person having anything; cars, wealth, fame. All elicited mean comments.

Two years ago, conservatives got all upset that poor (which to them, let's be brutally honest here, means black) people were buying "luxury items," and were therefore responsible for their lot in life. The top five horrifyingly bourgeois frivolities were a refrigerator, television, stove and oven, microwave, and air-conditioning.

Yes, Virginia, in the year 2011 being able to preserve and cook food, not suffer heat-related illness and injury, and having audiovisual entertainment was seen as the ultimate in reaching beyond one's proper station in life.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:20 AM on July 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


I'm fairly certain CNN has a policy that if producers insist on offering any quality programming, the title and headline have to be horrible.

They have to compete with the internet, and it's sensationalized headlines. Why tune in later today or tomorrow for a calm and collected debate, when there are dozens of flashy new articles online? Come on, let's have a race to the bottom, the winner gets cake!
posted by filthy light thief at 10:28 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two years ago, conservatives got all upset that poor (which to them, let's be brutally honest here, means black) people were buying "luxury items," and were therefore responsible for their lot in life.

Oh, they weren't conservatives, they were just a think tank. According to the CNN article, the Heritage Foundation is merely "a D.C. think tank with a perspective favored by political conservatives," which is probably the writer's attempt to appear unbiased, or an editor's correction to the writer calling the Heritage Foundation "a racist bunch of jerkwads."
posted by filthy light thief at 10:32 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The white guy from New Orleans' (edit: Tim Wise) story in that Levar Burton clip is perfect. As he said, "that's white privilege." For a closer to home example, any time anyone suggests "call the cops" as a reasonable response to pretty much anything on Ask Metafilter, I think to myself "that's white privilege."

I'm white and when I was a child, I was taught that the police were there to help. That they were among the most trustworthy adults, ranking just above teachers and nearly on par with parents. I spent my teens and twenties deep in the Toronto street punk subculture and, because of the way I looked, I quickly had to learn a whole different way of dealing with the police. I've been arrested without cause, and I've been the victim of pretty severe police brutality and, to this day, when I see a cop car, I get far more nervous than I ever am while walking through a "bad" neighbourhood.

My number one piece of advice to young people (including my own children) when dealing with police is this: You are now in an interaction with a person you know nothing about. They may be a saint or the world's biggest prick, they might be a misogynistic racist homophobe, or they might not. You don't know. What you do know is that they have the power to ruin your day, if not your life, on a whim. And they had to go through basically no psychological screening or training to acquire that power, nor do they have to generally defend or justify their use of it. Behave accordingly.
posted by 256 at 10:37 AM on July 15, 2013 [38 favorites]


I was taught to drive by a 50 year old black man who worked at the driving school next to high school and was also a coach/gym teacher at the middle school.

One day during our lesson he went over what to do when you get pulled over and it closely matched michaelh's advice: turn off the car, be polite, hands on the wheel, tell the officer before you open the glove box.

Several years later I was pulled over for running a stop sign and did EXACTLY what I had been taught. After a few minutes the officer asked, "Are you high? Are there drugs in the car?" Because apparently it was not the correct behavior for a 19 year old suburban white girl.

It never occurred to me until that moment that I was automatically not under suspicion and that my friends who were black were, even though we can from the same neighborhood.
posted by Saminal at 10:39 AM on July 15, 2013 [21 favorites]


> Oh man, Tim Wise's story about the NOPD at the end of the Levar Burton video is wild. He's trying to break into his car, and without checking for ID or ownership of the car, a cop comes up and starts trying to help him break into a car. Talk about privilege.

It's late 2005, I'm in New Orleans (my hometown) for Thanksgiving, and my dad is driving me around showing me the state of things since Katrina — what got damaged, what's getting rebuilt, etc. — and we see police lights in the rear-view mirror.

Dad (who is in his early 60s and lily-white) is confused, but he pulls over. Before I realize it, he's taken his seatbelt off, gotten out of the car, and walked over to the police to find out what the problem is. I start to say "what are you d—" but he's already out of earshot. I watch the resulting polite conversation through the back windshield like it's a nature show.

He gets back into the car a couple minutes later with a ticket in hand. "Ran a stop sign a few blocks back," he says. I'm still open-mouthed.

This is the same NOPD that had killed two unarmed black people on the Danziger bridge three months before, the same NOPD that was found by the DOJ to be experts at racial profiling on traffic stops, and is in the middle of implementing a consent decree to be monitored by the FBI until they get their shit together.

So Levar Burton has to keep his hands visible at all times, but my dad can get out and talk to an officer face-to-face as though they're chums. That's privilege for you.
posted by savetheclocktower at 10:42 AM on July 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Missed the five minute edit window..... I'm sad to say I did not look like Rutger Hauer when I was 19, the link was meant to be this one.
posted by 256 at 10:43 AM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Missed the five minute edit window..... I'm sad to say I did not look like Rutger Hauer when I was 19, the link was meant to be this one.

I am so going to picture you making that face when I see a kill report in the EVE corp chat window.

posted by RolandOfEld at 10:49 AM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, they weren't conservatives, they were just a think tank. According to the CNN article, the Heritage Foundation is merely "a D.C. think tank with a perspective favored by political conservatives," which is probably the writer's attempt to appear unbiased, or an editor's correction to the writer calling the Heritage Foundation "a racist bunch of jerkwads."

Really, if you are some kind of political group and you have the word "heritage" or "family" in your name, it's a safe bet that you will turn our to be "a racist bunch of jerkwads." Well, after 5 minutes' conversation. Maybe 3, if you arefeeling unguarded.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:51 AM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is an extremely minor point, and definitely reflects my white privilege, but I imagine the hassle I get from US Customs at the border, coming back into the country from Canada, is a mild form of what people with brown skin deal with all day every day in their interactions with authority. If you want to experience humorless authoritarians drunk on power as a white person, the border is the place to be. (It sucks, and I'm sure I get 1/10th the experience having brown skin would get me for a traffic stop.)

Re: 256's comment above, it's really horrific when reflected upon for even a second that the authorities who have the most power in the day-to-day lives of your average citizen basically get no training at all other than as a soldier preparing to fight an enemy. Weapons training and how to drive a cruiser should be minor classes in an intensive empathy-and-defusing education. Being a police officer should make you humble at the privilege we're granting you, not an asshole hiding behind mirror sunglasses and body armor.
posted by maxwelton at 10:52 AM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Being a police officer should make you humble at the privilege we're granting you, not an asshole hiding behind mirror sunglasses and body armor.

Except your job is to deal with the "ne'er-do-wells" of society, so I imagine you can get jaded pretty quickly, even if you start from a humble place.

On that topic, I was talking with the wife of a police officer, who was sharing stories about the terrible things that happened at a little public park. I was new to the area, and I had meetings near the park, but never really thought about who was using it until that conversation (weeks earlier, while parking near that park, I dismissed the needle in the gutter as an unfortunate bit of refuse that you can find in any big city). Then I talked to someone else, who grew up on the area, and whose grandparents had lived a few blocks from that park. He had a totally different view of the area, and had never felt concerned or worried when walking around the area.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:07 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


But I think the system also shades the perception of the culprits and potential culprits. See Portugal's decriminalization of drugs, with the shift of focus to treatment of addicts. I wonder if there have been studies of the police themselves, and of views of the police, in the decade since decriminalization.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:12 AM on July 15, 2013


EmpressCallipygos: all I could think was that there is no reason that Geordie fucking Laforge should HAVE to worry about this.

It's probably against the law to drive with a banana clip glued to your face.
posted by dr_dank at 12:01 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm fairly certain CNN has a policy that if producers insist on offering any quality programming, the title and headline have to be horrible.

Several years ago CNN was on while I was eating in a restaurant (one of those that doesn't play Fox News), and the sound was down but the screen had a 60-minutes like title for a piece with an illustrated "cover." But the title was I DATED A VAMPIRE: SHE BIT HIM DRANK HIS BLOOD. And the illustration was of a character who would not have looked out of place as a monster on Buffy. I couldn't hear it, but by this logic, that had to have been some hard-hitting expose.
posted by JHarris at 12:24 PM on July 15, 2013


... all I could think was that there is no reason that Geordie fucking Laforge should HAVE to worry about this.

He's in a terrible situation, but with good company, including Forest Whitaker and others.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:35 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


>> CNN... horrible.
> They have to compete with the internet


So, compete, damn it, by being better than link bait bullshit. This is like wrestling with a pig. The New Yorker, NY Times, Guardian NPR News and ProPublica. are also in competition with Gawker, The Huffington Post and Joe Idiot's comments on Bob Moron's racist blog and they don't win by emulation.
==

A good "stay out of trouble with power-mad armed thugs" book is Arrest-Proof Yourself. It goes into a lot of detail about how to avoid being pulled over in the first place--not just how to avoid resisting arrest charges, getting shot or self-incriminating.
posted by morganw at 12:36 PM on July 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


So Levar Burton has to keep his hands visible at all times, but my dad can get out and talk to an officer face-to-face as though they're chums. That's privilege for you.

I wonder if this had less to do with race so much than it did with age and the militarization of the police.

People in older generations (maybe 55-60 and above, my mother in law, my parents) expect the police to be deferential and helpful. It is ingrained in them.

People of younger generations seem to have a more adversarial approach to the police, they almost expect the police to be aggressive and or more rigid.

(Which is not to deny that race is a major influence in police/citizen relations, but even white children have a more jaded view of the police these days)
posted by madajb at 1:00 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


A good "stay out of trouble with power-mad armed thugs" book is Arrest-Proof Yourself.

Everyone, even privileged middle-aged white guys like me, should read this book. I bought a copy and gave it to my sons to read, then discussed it with them.
posted by ogooglebar at 1:06 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if this had less to do with race so much than it did with age and the militarization of the police.

Pretty sure that when older black people are pulled over, they do not get of their car and approach the police. They do not expect the police to be deferential and helpful. It is ingrained into them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:12 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


CNN Holds Panel Discussion To Determine If There Race Problem In America, via The Onion.
posted by fredludd at 2:20 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had never really thought much about white privilege before until I experienced it last summer. Mr. Adams and I were driving home from a lengthy road trip - we'd driven from Michigan to Reno, NV - and were in southern Illinois this particular day. Suddenly we see the blue and red flashing lights in the rear-view mirror. IL State Trooper pulls us over. I'm keeping my hands visible, everything I always hear you're supposed to do. Trooper comes to passenger side (me) to stay on the shoulder of the freeway. He'd stopped us because we were driving cautiously, exactly the speed limit. "Is that illegal?" I asked. "No, it just caught my attention. This a rental car?" "Yes." "Where'd you rent it from?" "Budget in Birmingham, Mich." "Where's Birmingham?" "It's a suburb north of Detroit." "Do you happen to have your rental agreement?" "It's in the glove box, I'll have to reach for it." He looked at me like "how else can you get it out without reaching for it?" and I handed it to him. He glanced at it and handed it back, then thanked us and wished us a nice trip home. Never asked for either of our driver's licenses, registration or proof of insurance, usually the very first and most basic questions during a traffic stop. Didn't even casually inquire what our names were to see if they matched the rental contract.

When we got home I did some research and found out that a lot of rental cars on that section of Interstate get pulled over because it's a popular route for drug-runners. Mr. Adams said that once Trooper saw we were middle-aged pasty-white folks he probably immediately decided that we weren't drug dealers (!) and that's why never never checked our ID. It was thought provoking, to say the least.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:06 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Several years later I was pulled over for running a stop sign and did EXACTLY what I had been taught. After a few minutes the officer asked, "Are you high? Are there drugs in the car?" Because apparently it was not the correct behavior for a 19 year old suburban white girl.

Dave Chapelle's white friend Chip
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:43 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


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