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Cops Ignore Me Because I Have Light Skin—That Just Reaffirms Their Racism

August 13, 2015 in Blogs

By Linda Chavers, The Guardian

If police officers were really good at their jobs, not so quick to target darker-skinned men, they would be coming after me, too.

In a few days I will pack up my car, harness my dog in his seat and drive 200-something miles to Philadelphia to start a new job.

I drive a lot, and I flout the rules of the road. I find people obeying the speed limit in the left lane to be incredibly offensive, so I bully them out of my way. I weave in and out of cars I find to be too slow. I have created entire playlists on my phone’s Spotify while driving. I have checked my makeup in the mirror. I play my music loudly. And when I see a cop car, I turn the volume up.

Alcohol used to exacerbate this deep resentment of men in blue. In my drinking days, I would pick fights with the police, with chest bumps and curses in the mix. I have thrown things at officers. I only remember flashes of these scenes now, and I’ve never had a negative encounter with the cops that was unfounded. It’s always been me with the problem. But they’ve always forgiven me my lapses in judgment.

Have I mentioned that I’m black?

Here’s the thing: I’m a light-skinned black woman with dark, thick, long hair, and I come from a long line of the same. And because of my light skin tone, police, your eyes pass over me. You’ve been taught to profile my body, too.

You think I’m pretty; you think I’m harmless; you think I’m accessible. You think I have a nice smile and am friendly and polite. You appreciate my tone and how gently I nod my pretty head. You comment that I look like Kerry Washington, and I bat my eyes and laugh. You think I am attractive and accessible in a way you can’t fully express but you feel nonetheless.

You don’t see me as a threat. But there’s a key difference between being treated nicely and being ignored. When the cops ignore me or assume I’m obedient, …read more


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