Last month, the police department of Plainfield, Indiana held a training session for transgender awareness. This kind of training is essential for police officers since transgender people are more likely to experience police violence than non-trans people. That’s a fact, though, that at least one officer in attendance refused to believe.
As you can see in the video above, he asked the person leading the training where these statistics come from. Now, they come from a 2013 study from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, but facts are no match for the fact that this man doesn’t feel like trans people experience higher rates of violence.
“My life,” he says, “has never been part of police violence. Most of the people that I know have never been … accused the police of violence, so I guess I don’t get where that statistic comes from.”
So because he’s never seen it or experienced this sort of systematic discrimination himself, he refuses to believe it exists. Hmm, it’s almost like there should be a term for that sort of thing.
Police Captain Carri Weber, apparently as sick of his ramblings as any of us watching that video, interrupted to inform him that there is, in fact, a term for that: “White male privilege,” she says in what sounds to me to be a totally neutral, non-accusatory tone. “Cause of your white male privilege, so you wouldn’t know.”
Despite being entirely accurate, that does not go over well. The room is immediately filled with men’s voices and indignant “I’m sorrys” and “wows.”
The original unnamed officer then begins yelling. “Chief, are you going to let them get away with that? Seriously? I’m asking a legitimate question and I’m getting taught(?) ‘white privilege’? Are you serious? I find that extremely offensive … I will leave.”
The officer proceeded to file an official complaint against Weber, stating, “I was racially and sexistly slurred by Captain Carri Weber while I was asking a question of the instructor in training. I am now firmly aware of the discriminatory belief she just verbally communicated. … There is no place in the Plainfield Police administration or supervision for someone who holds and espouses her discriminatory views.”
FFS, these dudes. How many times do we have to go over this? “White male privilege” is not inherently an insult. IT IS NOT A SLUR. Privilege is also not a binary between your life being perfect and total crap. It’s a thing that you’re born with, a thing that potentially shields you from certain experiences. This man not knowing that everyone’s experiences with the police are not equal is a perfect example of how privilege shapes your worldview. He didn’t know this, but here he was, presented with an opportunity to learn.
Instead, he learned the lesson I’m sure he already knew that he could throw a fit about “discriminatory beliefs” oppressing him and get a woman suspended from her job. Which is exactly what happened to Weber.
Side note: you know who has been helped by none of this? The transgender people who are more than three times more likely to experience police violence than non-trans people!
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