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PAUL GLOVER ESSAYS: community control of food, fuel, housing, health care, planning, education, finance.

My White Privilege
by Paul Glover, December 2014

Let me tell you about white privilege and cops, especially middle class white privilege and white cops. I've never had an officer's pistol pointed at me, never been shoved, never been frisked, and detained courteously only when speeding. Even when I was a scruffy young man, police gave me a pass.

But this is not because I've lived a cautious life. I'm a lifelong community organizer, rebellious, temperamentally against the law, often in tough territory. As a white guy from the middle class, I've had the luxury to choose risky paths.

And frankly, I'm the guy that police are hired to serve and protect. Police seem to assume that I'm connected to the people who pay them. On rare occasions when I've been spoken to abruptly, I merely look at the officer in a certain manner, and they leave. I've even declined orders to "move along" and been left alone.

Specific outstanding examples: long ago in the midst of a rock-throwing antiwar demonstration, I walked through a police line and spoke with the lieutenant. On another occasion I talked a police chief out of attacking demonstrators, negotiating amiable confrontation. I've walked across the entire United States on foot, sweaty and ragged, crossing white neighborhoods, unbothered by Southern cops but once, then released as a "good old boy."

By contrast, black Americans, whether professionals or laborers, are targets of an ancient divide. Despite proofs of excellent intellect, creativity, athleticism or decency, African-Americans remain submerged in a dominant culture that makes them the sport of whites who feel inferior or afraid.

That's because law is enforced for those who control the money, the courts, the cops, the guns. And the media, especially.

America's daily news provides relentless headlines of lurid street crimes, with mugshots, which feeds perception that all black males are suspicious. This message scares whites, including police. And frightened cops become dangerous.

At the same time, news media neglect to publish mugshots of thousands of white collar predators-- bankers and corporate directors-- whose legalized greed causes the desperation that aggravates street crime. Their manipulations lead to lack of jobs, lack of living wages, lack of homes, lack of good education, lack of respect, lack of hope and lashing out.

Most seriously, front page news fails daily to dramatize the common heroism of average Americans of all races. When media lacks the vision to inspire us to fix America together, the objective of "objective" reporting becomes conflict. 

Therefore the key to refreshing the American Dream, I believe, is to employ every American to rebuild our cities so that our homes and businesses conserve costly fuels, while cleaning water and air. Racial competition for jobs will dissolve.

Instead of white privilege that serves the rich and the declining middle, I'd prefer to share an America where all are properly rewarded. This can be achieved most easily by co-op networks of mutual aid-- neither socialist nor capitalist-- for food, fuel, housing, and health care. These lower the costs of living.

As we evolve beyond the white middle class toward the American Mutual Class, toward balance with nature and one another, we'll all become safer, together.

Glover is founder of 18 organizations and campaigns dedicated to full employment, ecology and social justice. Author of six books on grassroots economies, he is a former teacher of urban studies at Temple University.

[email protected] 215 805-8330

Books by Paul Glover: Click title for more information.
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