Krista Vernoff, a 'Grey's Anatomy' showrunner, asked fellow white folks to try to understand how their privilege saves them from getting killed.
In the fight against racism, we need all those in positions of power to stand up in solidarity with those from marginalized communities. By being allies, they are able to gather more voices to be part of the anti-racism struggle. Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 showrunner Krista Vernoff did exactly that when she took to Twitter to highlight the systemic problems of race in our policing. Noting all the times she's been let off by police officials in the past, she pointed out that a person of color in her place would've received far worse punishment—or worse, ended up dead.
Vernoff started with an incident from when she was only 15 years old. She wrote, "When I was 15, I was chased through a mall by police who were yelling, 'Stop thief!' I had thousands of dollars of stolen merchandise on me. I was caught, booked, sentenced to six months of probation, required to see a parole officer weekly. I was never even handcuffed." Then, she jumped to an incident from three years later at 18 years old: "When I was 18, I was pulled over for drunk driving. When the police officer asked me to blow into the breathalyzer, I pretended to have asthma and insisted I couldn’t blow hard enough to get a reading. The officer laughed then asked my friends to blow and when one of them came up sober enough to drive, he let me move to the passenger seat of my car and go home with just a verbal warning."
Perhaps most shocking was an interaction she had with an officer when she was 20. "When I was 20, with all of my strength, I punched a guy in the face—while we were both standing two feet from a cop," she explained. "The guy went to the ground and came up bloody and screaming that he wanted me arrested, that he was pressing charges. The cop pulled me aside and said, 'You don’t punch people in front of cops,' then laughed and said that if I ever joined the police force he’d like to have me as a partner. I was sent into my apartment and told to stay there." Imagine if, in all these circumstances, it wasn't Vernoff committing these "crimes," but rather a woman of color, a Black woman in particular.
This is exactly what the writer urged other folks to see. She stated, "If I had been shot in the back by police after the shoplifting incident—in which I knowingly and willfully and soberly and in broad daylight RAN FROM THE COPS—would you say I deserved it? I’m asking the White people reading this to think about the crimes you’ve committed. (Note: You don't call them crimes. You and your parents call them mistakes.) Think of all the mistakes you’ve made that you were allowed to survive. Defunding the police is not about 'living in a lawless society.' It’s about the fact that in this country, we’re not supposed to get shot by police for getting drunk." What a controversial opinion, huh? That African-Americans shouldn't have to die for committing the same "mistakes" that white people do? In a strong conclusion, Vernoff affirmed, "The system that lets me live and murders Rayshard Brooks is a broken system that must change. Stop defending it. Demand the change." (Rayshard Brooks was a 27-year-old African American man who was fatally shot by Atlanta Police Department on June 12 this year.)