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Monday, July 27, 2015

What Matters: Success is Not a Zero-Sum Proposition

Hello, Readers, I am your typical white liberal, outraged by the latest news about police brutality. I’m also aware that all this media attention is revealing a longstanding problem, not a recent phenomenon. As upsetting as it is to face, I am grateful for the attention I’ve been forced to pay to structural racism. As a white woman, I don’t expect to be profiled by the police, except, perhaps, if there is a profile for white, suburban moms jacked up on anti-anxiolytics. This profile would be totally unfair, because I am not, at this time, jacked up on anything, although half a Xanax helped me through a dental ordeal just this morning. 

However, I do have plenty of concern that were I to be unfairly profiled and pulled over, I can expect condescending, one-upping treatment by the police. Uncivil treatment by civil servants who are probably underpaid and demoralized by their underpayment and cuts in benefits, and who are pretty tightly wound is the standard expectation. It happened to me the last time I encountered the police with my automobile. I was a teenager then, and when I said I wanted to speak to my parents, the cop in DC raised his voice and intimidated me. Still, I don’t drive around with that worry that I’ll be handcuffed and thrown on the ground and tased. Or killed. I can’t really wrap my mind around the horror of feeling that way all the time. It’s unforgivable that our culture accepts this. 

For this reason, the 13-year-old and I put a Black Lives Matter sign in our front yard. We live in a very white suburb, and it’s not entirely liberal, so I’m watching with interest to see what, if anything happens. I’m reporting this because I think it’s something I can do to register that I’m seeing the injustice that’s happening, and you can do it, too, Readers. I’m reporting it because I believe that lifting up the downtrodden helps all of us. Success is not a zero-sum proposition. 

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