My White Privilege
I don't know how to approach this last week with all the craziness that is going on. But I'm going to try. I want there to be massive changes. I hate cringing every time a cell phone video hits Twitter or the local news, praying it isn't another white cop killing a black man. I want police to be highly trained, highly educated, and therefore highly respected.
I want black people to feel safe when they get pulled over or get stopped for a petty crime. I want black neighborhoods to quit losing their fathers to marijuana crime punishments. A drug that 90% of my white friends and I use at least once per month.
Last week I was working out with my trainer, a black man here in Utah. He told me a story that had happened the night before. He has access to the local LDS church because he takes the missionaries and non-active members to play basketball and fellowship them. He is Mormon, served a mission, and is as active as anyone I know in the LDS church. Yet that night, a man approached him in the church and told him he couldn't be in there. My friend explained that they come in almost every week and it's never been a problem. The man insisted they needed to leave. My friend told me the only difference between this time and all the others; he was with three other black kids instead of the white kids he usually brings.
I want to tell you there is no such thing as "white privilege." But there is.
And I think the first step to helping in all this madness is to acknowledge it. I want to share a little bit of my white privilege so that some of my friends will understand what these protests are about.
Twenty years ago, I was driving home from St. George with 5 of my white friends, and we were pulled over by a cop. Before he could approach us, we all started to get our friend driving fired up. We told him it was bullshit that he got pulled over because he was only going 78 in a 70 mph zone. We told him to fight the officer on it. When the policeman approached, my friend tried to argue, but the cop quickly cut him off and told him he was still speeding. He wrote the ticket and gave it to my friend. My friend began to plead his case again, and the cop got a little mouthy back. Then, out of nowhere, our friend Chris yelled as loud as he could at the officer from the back seat, "Shut up! Just shut up! You will not talk to my friend like that! Go back to your car, take another donut and shove it up your ass!" We were all completely stunned. We thought for sure we were all getting arrested, possibly worse. The cop just looked at us in amazement, finished giving my friend his ticket, and drove off.
After the initial shock wore off, we all celebrated, minus Nick, who got the ticket because our friend had just told a cop where to go and he didn't do a thing about it. Somehow we all felt completely comfortable in that situation. White Privilege.
I think back a lot at that moment, a group of punk 18-year-old kids yelling at a cop. It all happened quickly, and I can only imagine what would have happened if the officer felt threatened as he was outnumbered 6-1. But we were a group of white kids, I never felt an ounce of fear.
Fifteen years ago, I was at a high school football game standing on the sidelines, watching my alma matter play a rival school. We liked to support the school even though we didn't care much if they won, it was a fun way to spend a Friday night. One game, while I was there with my brother and two of our friends, a random man came up and told us we had to move. We were friends with the local Murray cops, and they had always let us stand by the field, so we explained this to the man. This particular game, all the cops we knew were on the other side of the field. When we didn't move, mostly cause this guy didn't even present to us who he was, he went and got the visiting team's school cop. The cop came over and immediately told us to leave. We tried to explain that we were friends with the local police and they let us watch from there. This cop was having none of it. He said, "Well, I'm a cop and I said you need to leave!" My brother responded, "Ya, we know you're a cop because of the attitude!"
I have never seen anything go from zero to sixty so fast in my entire life.
The cop grabbed my brother and started dragging him and threw him on the ground. As he was putting him in handcuffs, the cop was roughing him up and calling for backup. My brother kept yelling and I started to plead with him to be quiet. Eventually, three cops came over and they were all very rough with my brother. Eventually, they let him go. Me, him, and our other two white friends went home and called it a night. No one was hurt too badly. Thank goodness we were all white.
I've never once been pulled over and thought about something terrible happening to me. Just the other day, I realized that my concealed weapon permit expired two years ago. I've carried a gun in my car and a gun in my truck for that full two years. I've been pulled over half a dozen times and I've presented that expired card every single time as I explained to the cop that I have a firearm in my glove box. They have never once cared to look at it close enough to know if it was current and if I was breaking the law, and I never once felt like they even cared. White privilege.
I am trying to withhold any judgments or make any comments that one would make coming from a place of understanding on this issue. I don't understand. So I'm just listening, asking questions, lending support where I can.
Last March, I had the chance to go to Tanzania with a group called "The Waterboys." This is an organization of NFL players and military members that go every year and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and provide clean water to the people of Africa. On this particular trip, one of the members that joined us was Nate Boyer. Many of you might know him from the famous picture of a marine standing in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick while he was taking a knee. That man, the Marine, is Nate Boyer.
I recently interviewed him on my podcast, and he told me, "I just wanted to learn. I tried to understand what I didn't know. I was able to take out all the judgment and try to see it from his view. We didn't agree on everything, but we both left respecting what the other person's views are." I love Nate Boyer and I'm proud to call him a friend. As he did, I am trying to learn and listen.
This feels like the final "tipping point" to infect some change. I do know this, from this day forward it isn't enough not to be racist, it's time to fight back against those that are. From one very privileged white guy, let me say that I know Black Lives Matter.