To pick up where I ended in my last post, it happened a block from our house.
Maggie was walking our dog down the sidewalk. A man in a pickup backed down his driveway without paying any attention. Maggie quickly stepped out of the way to let him pass.
Her movement must have alerted him of the near miss. He stopped, looked at her, and asked, “Can I help you?” He did not say this with courtesy.
“No,” she answered.
“Then what are you doing on my property?”
“I’m trying to get around your truck,” she said.
Realizing he was blocking the sidewalk, he apologized and drove off.
You might be thinking: What’s your point? He apologized. Grumpy people are everywhere. Move on.
Precisely. You and I can move on. It’s called white privilege. Think about it.
If I’d been walking the dog, do you think he would have said those things to me? No. He would have seen an old white woman walking her old dog. He would have apologized maybe, but he wouldn’t have questioned my feet on the edge of his lawn.
When he looked at Maggie, he only saw that she wasn’t white. She was the Other who didn’t belong here in Whiteville. I have no idea what kind of trouble he thought was possible by a petite young woman with an old dog during daylight.
White privilege meant he had “permission” to inquire about the motives of an Asian. My guess is that when she answered in perfect English, he deemed her acceptable. If she’d had an accent, would he have detained her and called the police?
You might be thinking: None of that happened. No harm. Move on, already.
You and I can move on if we’re white.
She can’t. When she arrived home, I could tell she was shaken. As a person of color, she understood the possible harm she faced, not to mention her dog’s safety.
Worst of all, she now knows she’s subject to questioning. She told me she doesn’t feel safe here.
Tell her to avoid that street.
But it’s bigger than that. As a person of color, she doesn’t have the luxury of simply minding her own business, walking her dog. Every street is potentially that street.