When I was 16, I got ridiculously drunk at a party. I went outside and was so intoxicated, that I literally passed out in the front yard—in gravel landscaping, no less.
When I woke up, I was freezing, so I put my hood on, zipped my sweater up all the way, and started walking back to the house party. Only…I wasn’t walking back toward the party at all.
Drunk and completely disoriented, I began pounding on the locked front door of the house, demanding that they let me in because it was cold and I was shivering and tired and just wanted to pass out on the couch. They told me to go away—that they were calling the police.
Still thinking I was at the party house, and that someone inside was just messing with me, I decided to climb over the wall that wrapped around the back yard of the house. I figured I’d outsmart the person inside, and that I’d sneak in through the back door with ease.
But, in REALITY, I was completely drunk and the person inside was completely sober and terrified. Needless to say, they heard me sloppily mount and plop over the back wall, and they were at the back door before I even grabbed the handle.
Again, they screamed at me to leave. Again, I insisted they should let me in. I was so drunk, I DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE THE SHOTGUN THIS MAN WAS HOLDING IN HIS SHAKING HANDS.
Then came the sirens: blue and red lights flashing against the black and biting night.
"Are you kidding me?" I thought, "This guy ACTUALLY called the police on his own damn house party!"
I didn’t stick around to argue; I scrambled back over the wall and made the quick decision to run for it and try to hide in the nearby fields.
Only, I didn’t run towards the fields at all. SOMEHOW, I was SO DRUNK, I actually ran TOWARD the cops at full speed.
NOW, here’s where I want to take a break in my story. Whenever I’ve told this story before, I’ve always lightly joked about it, reflecting on how drunk and stupid I was, and not really focusing on how lucky I am to still be alive. And, you see: that’s white privilege—I FINALLY GET THAT! I’m 6’5” tall and, on that night, I had my hood on, covering my face; I was RUNNING TOWARD THE POLICE and they HAD THEIR WEAPONS DRAWN; I had spent the last hour, unwittingly terrifying some man that lived SIX HOUSES DOWN from the party I had been at; and, yet, here I am: alive today.
That gun-toting neighbor didn’t shoot me: Trayvon Martin didn’t have that same privilege.
Those cops, lined up, guns drawn, didn’t murder me in the street: I can’t say the same for Mike Brown.
I see now just how close I REALLY came to death that night; only, I didn’t die, and now that I’m older, and I’ve seen what happens to people who are JUST LIKE ME, only, their skin is darker and more colorful than mine, I have to imagine that part of why I’m still alive and Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown aren’t, is ONLY because of the paleness of my skin.
That’s not right.
That’s not justice.
Justice for Mike Brown.
Justice for Trayvon Martin.
Justice for ALL POC, all around the world, who are terrorized and murdered, JUST because of the color of their skin.
I acknowledge my privilege; now let’s eradicate it.