It’s a funny thing, that Women’s Studies perspective.
I majored in English Literature and Women’s Studies in college so perhaps I’m uber aware of things that perhaps others are not so inclined to notice. Or maybe there were just one too many examples of racism and sexism this week in Plumas County for them to go unnoticed. I don’t know really. I do know that it isn’t all in my head. And I do know that if one is privileged enough to be of white male privilege well, one might not see it at all.
I wish people would stop defining racism as something that happens in the South and sexism some throw back that only the Taliban is capable of. Our Plumas County versions might be more subtle than the extremes of say Mississippi and Pakistan but that doesn’t mean they aren’t harmful and that certainly doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Case in point. A few weeks ago a tall white male employed by the county sheriff intentionally and willfully disrespected my husband and I for not knowing the proper procedure of cops and robbers at the courthouse. In short, he treated us like garbage. Maybe he did it because we were Mexican-American. Maybe he did it because he wanted to feel superior over non-cops and non-robbers but the point of the matter is, he was disrespectful and willfully unhelpful when I asked him a few simple questions like ‘where do I go to pay this?’ I complained about him to his superiors. Today I got a letter in the mail stating that my complaint was unfounded. On the phone, the sergeant who spoke with me insisted that Officer B was a ‘nice guy’ and that I probably misconstrued his condescending behavior and that ‘he isn’t racist.’ How does a mainstream white man trained to think racism is a white on black in the sixties type of thing decide whether or not another white man he is buddies with is racist when he probably doesn’t recognize their collective behavior as negative and bullying in the first place?
Well Sgt. Good Ol Boy, I can only tell you this. WHen you’re a minority you know when you are being talked down to and/or ignored. You know when someone is belittling your very existence. You know when you’re in danger. Call it a gut feeling.
It’s sad really. I’ve already had to teach my children that if they are in trouble they should think twice before calling a cop to help them if they are in Plumas County when they need help. Call a neighbor. Call a friend. Call the fire department. Don’t call the bullies with the badges though.
So Sgt. Good Ol Boy who wrote a letter to me today—please know that my complaint is very much FOUNDED. It’s founded in my truth. It’s founded in your lies. I’m a middle aged woman. I know disrespect when I see it. I know condescension when I see it. And your department owes my family and I an apology. This is not your first incident of racism. Do you want me to go down the list of things I’ve seen you do to Native Americans in this county for their simple matter of still existing despite you? I demand that all people in Plumas County are treated with the respect they deserve when they go to the courthouse in Quincy. Perhaps this is just you and your good ol boys last hurrah of power.