I grew up in a small suburb with little racial diversity. That being said, I rarely experienced situations displaying unequal treatment of African Americans because there weren’t very many African American people in my area. However, when I got into my high school years and learned how to drive, I got out more and subsequently, noticed my white privilege.
One situation that revealed the privileges of whites to me really sticks out in my mind. My friends and I were taking an Uber to another one of our friend’s house one night and our Uber driver was an African American man. The ride was going normally until our Uber was pulled over for speeding. Now this may seem routine; the driver was speeding so he got pulled over. However, he was only driving 5 miles over the 35 mph speed limit. This struck me as strange because I had been driving for over a year and I had never gotten pulled over, regardless of the fact that I typically drove 10-15 miles over the speed limit and that I drove on that main street, where my Uber got pulled over, all of the time. The policeman was very rude when issuing the ticket to our driver. When we got to our friend’s house, my other friend asked me if I thought our Uber got pulled over because the driver was African American. I, embarrassingly, hadn’t even thought of that as a reason. We pondered on this idea for a couple of minutes, but eventually dropped it.
I didn’t think about this situation again until I was driving on the same street and got pulled over for driving 17 miles over the speed limit. The policeman was very nice to me and gave me a warning for my reckless driving. I didn’t even have to plead with him to get out of the speeding ticket. My speeding was more extreme than that of my previous African American Uber driver, but I didn’t get a ticket like he did. I believe that the fact that my African American Uber driver got a ticket for barely speeding and I didn’t when I obviously was speeding reveals the white privilege I sadly failed to notice for most of my life.