I remember the first time I was pulled over by a police officer.
I had just started driving. My dad was in the truck with me. The officer stopped us to let us know that I had only turned on the parking lights, not the headlights.
It was a quick, friendly interaction. It freaked me out a little because I thought I had done something wrong, but I was never scared in that scenario or in any of my interactions with police since then.
Of course, I have no reason to be wary of police officers. I am a girl, I am white, my dad was a cop before I was born and worked security as I grew up.
And that’s what you call privilege. I grew up with the officers that served and protected my community being from my community — most of them were white, I went to school with their children, our families went to church together, etc. Because I knew them, I was not afraid of the uniforms carrying around guns. Because I grew up with one, I knew the protocols for interacting with officers and I learned how officers are trained to react within specific situations.
As I watched the Philando Castille video this morning, I just kept thinking how differently that situation would have gone for me. According to his girlfriend’s narrative, Castille did everything he was supposed to do — all of the things I was taught to do — yet he was shot four times.
At first, I thought it was odd that his girlfriend was filming the aftermath, so calmly. I would have been grabbing whatever I could find to try to stop the bleeding. But the officer is telling her she has to keep her hands where they are, and all she has in her hands is her phone. Had she acted upon my instincts, she would have likely ended up shot as well.
Furthermore, I never grew up fearful that officers or the public wouldn’t believe me. As I watched, I realized her instincts were to collect all the evidence she could to prove what happened. Without the video, would anyone have believed her? She grasped at her best chance to record her testimony.
I am the type of person who works hard at seeing both sides. I am the person that will come up with an argument to refute my own point, because that is just how I work. In many of these stories — the black man shot by a police officer stories — I can usually find a way, not to excuse what happened, but to see something from their point of view.
This one, I cannot wrap my head around. I just keep thinking that if it had been me, I would be walking away from that scene alive.
On days like this, it is really hard to find the fair. It’s hard to find beauty in a world where some people have to fear those who serve and protect, where a woman has to film her loved one dying, where a routine traffic stop turns into a little girl seeing a man shot right in front of her.
Yet we must continue to search for what is fair, not to make light of tragedies but in order to find the justice and beauty that is our goal. For He has told us “what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
*This was written quickly as my attempt to sort through my thoughts. It’s not the most coherent or best-written piece of mine, and I am ok with that. Nor am I trying to get into all the intricacies of the #blacklivesmatter movement and our country’s issues with profiling and racism. However, a law-abiding citizen should not end up dead after a routine traffic stop. We must examine –seeking the truth even when it hurts –how this could have happened so that we can make repairs and ensure justice for all.