WHITE PRIVILEGE IS (A SHORT STORY 📖)

Inspired by @JennyJLee @aus10 & @ijeoma
  1. Today I ventured into my campus bookstore to return a shirt that I'd bought my mom for Christmas
    It was too big and she wanted it in a different color 🙄
  2. I nervously waited in line rehearsing what I would say to the cashier seeing as I'd lost my receipt
  3. Long story short, I had to pull my bank account statement up on my phone to show him the exact change amount that I'd paid for the sweater
  4. The old white man at the counter kept glaring at me as he begrudgingly gave me back the store credit (after calling the manager of course.)
    Mind you, I'd already looked up the store policy online and it said that regardless of whether or not you have a receipt, you will receive store credit for returns.
  5. So I got the gift card and went back into the store to try to find another gift for my mom
  6. I put her on FaceTime to show her the new sweater that I picked out and that's when I noticed
  7. The 3 staff members covertly following me
  8. You know... To ensure that I didn't steal a "Northwestern Mom" mug
  9. Or worse... A $40 Purple wildcat hoodie
  10. Like the one I was wearing
  11. Because I am a student here 😒
  12. Anyway, my mom starts asking me to try on the jacket so she could gauge whether the size would work for her and I panicked
  13. Because if I take off my backpack and my jacket and put on the store merchandise, they would definitely think I was attempting to steal
    This has happened to me before. Police were called, and I was terrified because
  14. Ta-Nehisi Coates in his book Between the World and Me talks about the code "I could have you arrested!” Which is to say: “I could take your body."
    ANY interactions with the police for people of color, especially Black and Latinx peoples, could end in a "misunderstanding" i.e. the loss of our bodies, our futures, our lives. And it would be framed always as our fault.
  15. Anyway so there I am walking around in this bookstore located in the center of my campus, my home, terrified.
  16. And I tell my mom that I can't try on this sweater because people are already following me
  17. She immediately understands and hangs up... Because she too has been through this.
  18. So I carefully walk the sweater to the front of the store in my purple Northwestern hoodie that I'd bought in this very store freshman year, back when I didn't know that people would see it but not believe that I could belong at this University too
  19. And that's when two white guys try to walk out of the store and set off the door alarm
  20. The cashier smiles at them warmly and says
  21. (And I shit you not- I could not make this up)
  22. "Must be all the money in your wallet setting off those alarms! You should buy some more of our books!"
  23. And they laugh
  24. And smile
  25. And leave.
  26. They did not have to prove their purchases to the cashier. They did not have to take extra precautions to ensure that no one thought that they were stealing
  27. And if somehow the police were called, they would not be fearful that the interaction would end in the loss of their bodies.
  28. And that is white privilege.
  29. It's not me saying that I wish the boys had to live with the same paranoia and extra hurdles that I have.
  30. It's not me saying that they haven't had hard times in life
  31. White privilege is me wishing that I could set off an alarm somewhere nice without getting searched... And the fact that those boys barely noticed that kindness afforded them... And probably never will.