LAGO DE PRIVILEGIO BLANCO, CALIFORNIA — Rebecca Garrison describes herself as an “upper-middle class, middle-aged white woman to the tee.” In her tiny beachfront neighborhood in California, Rebecca goes by “Becky” and the whole town knows that she’s a modern woman with modern sensibilities, at least Becky thinks they do.
“I don’t think I have a racist bone in my body,” Becky told us this week as our reporter got her feelings on NFL players kneeling in protest of police brutality during the national anthem, “but I I have to say I just don’t like how those players are protesting, you know? I respect their right to do it, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t condone it, you know what I mean?”
Becky said that she thinks “there has to be some other way for people to beg to not be shot on sight by cops just for having dark skin.”
“I mean, I know the Constitution says it has to be peaceful,” Becky said, “and I know that kneeling is as peaceful an act as you can get, but still, it just rubs me the wrong way for some reason. Why do they have to disrespect our national song and striped cloth to ask for the opportunity to have their day in court instead of being summarily executed by a guy with a badge and a gun?”
The other day, Becky was personally confronted with her feelings on peaceful, silent protest when she went to her local Whole Foods.
“I was going in to get some organic, free-range, non-processed, non-GMO, gluten free, dairy free, soy free, food free carrot puff snacks,” Becky said, “and a bottle of Tito’s for my nightly ‘Tini-thon, and I see this man out in front, kneeling down. He’s got a sign that says, ‘Taking a knee in solidarity.’ And I gotta say, it was absolutely jarring.”
Becky says that hearing about the protests and the issues related to them on sports talk radio or on the news is “hard enough” but being confronted with the issues in her day to day life is “downright horrifying.”
“I asked him what he was doing, and he told me that he was just joining the people peacefully asking to not be straight-up murdered by cops,” Becky said, “Which is fine, and I agree with that cause. I just wish I didn’t have to think about it.”
“It’s very hard, as a white person,” Becky said, “to be shown a picture of the world in which our life experience isn’t anywhere near what everyone’s life experiences are. It triggers us something fierce sometimes to grapple with being the majority but wanting to pretend that we’re the minority that needs protecting.”
Ms. Garrison says that her unease doesn’t come from a lack of empathy; she actually agrees that police brutality is wrong, that systemic racism still exists, and that something should be done about it. Becky says she voted for Obama twice and last year chose Clinton over Trump. However. progressive as she is, she’s still not sure that black people are protesting in the “most effective way to satisfy white people.”
“Don’t they want us to feel good about what they’re saying? Don’t they understand the point of their protest is to make us feel safe and secure, catered to, before they tell us about an urgent need within their largely ignored community,” Becky asked rhetorically.
In the end, Becky says her views on the protest are simple, and she told the man she saw kneeling at Whole Foods the same thing.
“I told him, and I think I was pretty magnanimous about this, that I don’t mind him protesting,” Becky said, “I just wish he could do it in a way that didn’t involve me thinking about anything.”