Dear White Women: 911 Is Not A Personal Customer Service Hotline


Attention, white women, 911 does not exist as your. personal customer service hotline.

The truth is uncomfortable because it is the truth, and for white women, you need to understand the police don’t just exist for your pettiest of discomforts, especially if it involves your discomfort with people of color.

Nylon writer Jamaica Ponder pleads with you: please drop the thoughtless, self-righteous act of calling the police on black and other colored people for merely existing.

“Whether it’s barbecuing, sleeping, moving out of rented Airbnbs, sitting at a Starbucks,” or legally participating in a college tour, “the threat of law enforcement intervening is never far away—and it’s always terrifying,” writes Ponder.

Add to that long list of ‘Colored People Get The Cops Called On Them for Doing Normal Everyday Things’ is the furor caused by #PermitPatty, real name is Alison Ettel; who apparently thought that an eight year old black girl selling cold water on a hot summer day without a permit (as thousands of white children across the country in their lemonade stands during the summer also do) warranted a phone call to the San Francisco police department.  

Footage of the encounter was captured by the mother of the little girl, and uploaded to Twitter by her.

“Black Americans are raised knowing they must navigate our police state with precision in an active effort not to be murdered,” continues Ponder, and a simple Google search will yield hundreds of cases only within the last three years that document such occurrences.

“There is no good reason to contribute to the already difficult and frequently deadly relationship between police and people of color unless you are in immediate danger or are witnessing an emergency,” she added.

See, for some white women, when they call the police on people of color (often for the pettiest of reasons or suspicions) they often have a false belief that once the POC are removed from the situation the white woman is in, that the trouble is over.

Oh my sheltered white woman, for the POC you just readily delivered into difficult territory, the trouble is just beginning.

“Use of the police to control the movement of black people is a form of violence; there’s no way to guarantee that it won’t result in a confrontation with irreversible consequences. Tamir Rice was murdered at point-blank range for playing with a toy in a park. Who knows what the outcome of [the black little girl]selling water could have been? Equally as worrisome, why was Ettel willing to run the risk of finding out?”  

Ponder is right to call that self-righteousness a ‘violent tool of privilege’ and calls on other white women who recognize their privilege to do something about it.

“If you see it happening, step in. Those of us with extreme privilege must use it to alleviate the burden for people who can’t protect themselves. Advocacy and being an ally are essential acts, not just because they’re the hallmarks of empathy but because it can mean the difference of saving someone’s life.”

Read the whole of her powerful piece here, with updates on the case here and here.


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