Monday, June 15, 2020
White privilege, Black Chris & my court appearance
I can’t fathom what would have happened to Black Chris, but here’s what happened to White Chris last week when he went to court to contest a $234 traffic citation.
White Chris got off.
He told some jokes, made nice with the state trooper and the district justice and went home singing a happy tune.
White privilege? Not nearly enough to satisfy White Chris.
Honestly, it had gone so well White Chris almost asked them to each throw in $20 each for the privilege of meeting his Caucasian ass.
There’s White Privilege.
Then there’s White Chris Privilege.
This all stems back to January when I was pulled over on my way to a Pittsburgh speaking gig. A state trooper had busted me for driving with an expired plate.
In fact, I had the plate. It just wasn’t on the vehicle. It had been on my desk back here at The Tin Lizzy for about two months.
I get to things when I feel like it, I said. The trooper, apparently a connoisseur of brazen ineptitude, thought that was hilarious. She has a nice laugh.
I hope she’d have merely laughed at poor Black Chris, too, but you never know.
Either way, I’d vowed to fight the ticket on the grounds that, gee, I’m just such a nice guy.
I fight ‘em all.
I contend the worst that can happen is I pay the full ticket and burn up a couple of hours playing curios tourist on the fringes of the criminal justice system.
Well, that’s the worst that can happen to White Chris. I think we all know what’s the worst that can happen to Black Chris once he gets hauled, always against his will, into the CJS.
And, hey, I can always, win or lose, get a decent blog out of the day. Black Chris doesn’t do Facebook so I’m guessing he doesn’t blog.
White Chris prepared for his day in court by researching the orations of the man that to him was one of the great legal minds of the 20th Century, that of Oliver Wendall Douglas.
Remember him? He was the gentleman farmer on “Green Acres,” the screwball comedy that ran from 1965-’71 and featured a pig that could attend school and vote during a time in that part of the country where people like Black Chris were discouraged from doing either.
But Mr. Douglas, a lawyer by trade, often wound up in court and always came off as the amiable blowhard — and that’s what I was aiming for.
My arguments to get the fees tossed or reduced were: I’m broke; I’ll never do it again; and I’m the author of “Use All The Crayons!” I intended to argue that because I’ve given away more than 500 free copies I was, in essence, above the law.
And I cringe even writing that in case even one reader mistakes my White Privilege for White Supremacy. And in my defense the book says we should use all the crayons, not just the pale ones.
So it’s probably a good thing it never went that far.
While I was in the waiting room, the trooper asked me three precise questions about my intentions. She then met with the magistrate in what I guess you’d call his chambers. They emerged and said they were dismissing the charge and — what the hell — they were even refunding the $64.75 collateral I’d anted up.
Victory! It was a great day for White Chris justice.
I drove straight home and watched the funeral of George Floyd.
What Black Chris did that day, I have no idea, but I hope he spent some time practicing articulating, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” and other slogans White Chris will never need to rehearse.
And I hope Black Chris will find it in his heart to one day say two words for my failure to not do more to ensure justice is colorblind.