I’m not saying this with pride. But on days like today, when they brought me to tears and I brought them to tears. Well I need to think about something other than them flooding my kitchen with the damn faucet when I was in the laundry room for maybe two minutes. And how Declan wrenched my freaking back because he didn’t listen to me, climbed too high at the playground, and then let go and fell and I caught him in one arm…all 37 lbs of him. Yeah that freaking hurt. It was a bad long day for all of us. So this blog post is not about that, it’s about something bigger and deeper.
The first ticket they got me out of…I was using my cell phone…on speaker phone about three or four years ago, when I was pregnant with them. Very pregnant. I had a big Jeep Grand Cherokee. The cop pulled me over literally as I was pulling out of the parking lot from work. I had some one on speaker and was switching it over to bluetooth and bam. Red lights.
I explained I was switching to bluetooth but I literally just got into the car. He asked for my registration. I looked at him and explained, “I have to get out of the car to get it. It’s too far, and I can’t reach the glove compartment because I’m pregnant.” This was not a lie. I actually couldn’t reach it over the belly. I leaned over to demonstrate.
The cop looked disgusted. Because who wants to make a pregnant lady get out of her car in the 90 degree heat, behind the psych hospital, and make me walk to the other side to find my registration. He knew it was going to be a shitshow. He asked me if I worked at the psych hospital, I said I do, I’m a nurse practitioner. He facepalmed. Because he knew that my co-workers would likely either be watching or coming outside and then berate him for making the pregnant lady waddle around extra in the heat. He likely brought patient’s to us. He knew my co-workers are mouthy.
He asked me to show him the bluetooth working, which I did. Then he said, “Just go.” but not a nice Just go. An I’m disgusted with this whole situation type of “just go”. I drove away.
Flashforward to Thursday. Yes the day after I wrote the horrible blog post about my horrible week leading up to Wednesday. Thursday morning I got pulled over for speeding. He said, “You were going 50.” I said, “Yes, I know I was, my bad, but I mean it’s a 40 zone…” meanwhile the boys are saying “Hi, Hi, Hi….” on and on until the officer says “Hi” back. He was youngish and smiling at me. It takes me awhile to register, but I think he was flirting which is weird because he clearly saw my twins in the backseat. I’m not used to being flirted with as a Mom.
He replied, “Actually it’s a 35 zone.” I said, “Well shit. My bad.” Because I did actually think it was a 40 zone. Then the boys get louder, and Declan says, “I scared Mama,” and I’m telling him it’s going to be okay, and then I look at the smiling police officer and do my best to look apologetic, and he asks me if I’ve gotten tickets before, and I say No. In my head I think ‘because I’m a nurse and I was pregnant’ but whatever. He lets me go, and tells me to have a “very nice day,” with a huge smile and a wave to my boys.
Now I’m thinking am I being punk’d? Because who gets out of a ticket with a smiling police officer? Then I think, well I’m a white woman with two toddlers in the backseat, in a nice car, wearing nice clothes, and then I’m like Fuck. White. Privilege.
I didn’t want a ticket. And is this only the second one I’ve gotten out of in my life? No. Unfortunately not. But the point is I’ve gotten out of them. And had I been Black or Hispanic or a man would I have gotten out of them? Hell no. I know I wouldn’t have. Had any of these officers known I am married to a woman…would I have gotten out of them? Who knows. I generally don’t wear my wedding ring to work so both times there was no obvious sign I was married.
I don’t know how to change this. Because, well for one thing I don’t want the damn ticket. But neither does any one else regardless of race or gender. It didn’t feel like a win as I drove away. It felt like a, shit, I suck so bad for using white privilege in this moment without even being aware I was using it. But that’s the point right? That’s why people who are not white get so pissed at white people for not even acknowledging that we have privilege and that we use it. It didn’t even hit me fully until I was pulling up to daycare. Where thankfully my two white boys are the minority.
I got out of the car the same time as a Black family, and that’s when it hit me. I thought what if it had been them who got pulled over? A Black Father and his daughter. Would he have gotten out of the ticket with a scared toddler making a scene in the backseat and a winning smile in the front? Probably not.
I’m not going to pretend I could possibly understand what it would feel like to a Black man to be pulled over by the police. Or a Black woman. I can’t. I can imagine it is fear and vulnerability though. The fear and vulnerability I’ve felt when I’ve been with my wife in conservative areas. The fear and vulnerability I’ve felt as a woman when I’ve suddenly realized I’m in an elevator full of men. I felt fear when I got pulled over. But not fear for my life. Fear of a ticket. A piece of paper, money, the hassle.
I can’t imagine being pulled over and fearing for my life. But I know that is the reality for many.
Like I said, I don’t have the answers, but I know this is a problem.
I always call out heterosexuals for not using their heterosexual privilege to advance LGBT rights. Well I’m not about to not call out myself when I’m using white privilege to my advantage without using it to advance the rights of all Persons of Color. This is a conversation that the hate in our country has sparked: finally. If there is anything good that comes out of the asshats in DC it’s the conversations around race, sexuality, gender identity, and that yes white privilege does exist.
As I said, I don’t have all the answers, but I will not remain silent or put my head in the sand and not acknowledge the problem. And that I too am a part of it. These are hard times and hard truths. But, perhaps Prince Edward says it best to Heath Ledger in A Knight’s Tale, “But you also tilt when you should withdraw…and that is knightly too.”
I know now is not the time to withdraw but tilting puts the knight at risk. It is a true fighter though, someone who weighs the options, knows they may fail, but tilts anyway. This piece was uncomfortable to write for me. Because it makes me examine my faults. No one likes to do that. But until we do nothing will change. So here I am, laid bare, tilting when perhaps I should withdraw.
I also know I need to switch to bluetooth before putting the car in motion and apparently I need to be more aware of speed limit changes on back roads. My bad.
p.s. the picture- of course they had to hold hands and walk down the brick path at the playground today after he wrenched my back, and look all cute and stuff. They know how to play me.