Privilege is like good health: You don’t even notice you have it until you lose it
But those who don’t have it, whether it’s privilege or good health, are intensely aware that they don’t have it. Kevin Drum has a post about a US Senator who has encountered problems that other Senators don’t:
When the Supreme Court was considering an affirmative action case in 2003, both Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell broke with George Bush and announced their support for taking race into account in college admissions. “I wish it was possible for everything to be race-neutral in this country,” Powell said, “but I’m afraid we’re not yet at that point where things are race-neutral.”
In 2009, when Congress voted on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Republicans voted almost unanimously against it—with the exception of all four Republican women in the Senate, who broke with their party to support its initial passage.
Yesterday, the Senate’s only black Republican told his white GOP colleagues that police officers aren’t quite the racial paragonsthey like to think they are:
He described several encounters with police, including one where he was stopped because the officer suspected his car was stolen. He described a similar incident that happened to his brother, a command sergeant major in the U.S. Army. And he told the story of a staffer who was “pulled over so many times here in D.C. for absolutely no reason other than driving a nice car.” The staffer eventually traded in his Chrysler for a “more obscure form of transportation” because “he was tired of being targeted.”
“I do not know many African-American men who do not have a very similar story to tell no matter their profession. No matter their income, no matter their disposition in life,” he said.
He asked his Senate colleagues to “imagine the frustration, the irritation, the sense of a loss of dignity that accompanies each of those stops.”
Scott also described walking into an office building on Capitol Hill and having an officer ask him to show his ID even though he wore a Senate pin. . .
See also this report by Emma Dumain in the Post and Courier:
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott was stopped by police officers seven times in one year. He’s frequently told that he’s suspected of driving a stolen vehicle.
While a local official back in Charleston, the hosts of a public event were reluctant to invite him inside. And as a six-year member of Congress, the South Carolina Republican has on multiple occasions been denied entry into congressional office buildings even though he wears an identification pin on the lapel of his suit jacket.
“ ‘The pin I recognize. You, I don’t,’ ” Scott recalled being told by one member of the U.S. Capitol Police. Scott was forced to produce further identification.
“Keep in mind,” Scott quipped, “I’m one of the easier senators to recognize.”
Scott is one of only two black lawmakers currently serving in the U.S. Senate. After last week’s fatal confrontations between black men and law enforcement officers in the nation’s heartland, he felt compelled to do something in response.
“I shuddered when I heard Eric Garner saying ‘I can’t breathe.’ I wept when I watched Walter Scott turn and run away and get shot and killed from the back. And I broke when I heard the 4-year-old of Philando Castile’s girlfriend tell her mother, ‘It’s OK. I’m right here with you,’ ” said Scott, referencing three of the dozens of black men killed by policemen over the past two years.
Scott found an outlet for his pain in a series of scheduled floor speeches this week aimed at starting an honest, if also difficult, conversation about race relations in the United States. His first speech Monday focused on how the wrongful actions of police officers should not overshadow the heroism of others. On Wednesday, Scott expounded on the theme in deeply personal terms.
Here’s the full 15-minute speech. The comments on YouTube are (at this moment) good: