White Privilege

To those who wrote in regarding the Jan.17 Slant section’s question of possible bias in the police response to Charlie Landeros, I think we are missing the point in this completely avoidable tragedy. 

There’s a double standard for officer engagement in this country. Two sets of rules: one for white people and one for people of color. White privilege prevents us from seeing that.

In a way, white privilege is like wearing a pair of permanent sunglasses, shielding us from a world that is blindingly bright with bias and bigotry. As a previously un-housed resident in Eugene, I occasionally peeked around these sunglasses of privilege, getting glimpses of the systemic, unearned advantages white people enjoy every day based on the color of our skin.  

Why are we not asking questions like “why would charges of trespass and disorderly conduct justify an arrest?” My personal experience with both charges as a white male has been that we are issued a citation or ordered to comply by an officer. We are rarely chased or thrown to the ground when we interact with police, regardless of how we comply or whether we stand up for ourselves. 

White people’s silence and denial surrounding our privilege furthers the systemic oppression in our town, making it unsafe for people of color and other vulnerable people to live here. We need to challenge the myth that equal rights and the right to equal treatment under the law are available to all. They are not. 

Nate Mitchell