Police brutality is a very real threat against people of color, but one white comedian is determined to expose how real it is — by deliberately committing crimes that have historically resulted in harsh punishment for people of color.
The experiment: Jessie Kahnweiler, a white comedian, sets to find out what would happen if she provoked police and even tried to break the law right in front of them.
In her video "Jessie Gets Arrested," she says, "We can all agree that what's going on with the police and black people right now is totally insane." But she's determined to put what her "one black friend" told her — that because she's white, "I have all of these privileges and I get treated totally different by the cops than black people get treated" — to the test.
The results: First, Kahnweiler takes her inquiry to the streets.
"What do you feel about white privilege?" She asks one man. "As a white woman, do you think I can get away with more stuff?"
"Yes, you can," he responds. "And you know it."
Other people of color on the street echo this sentiment, telling the comedian that the police will simply respond more harshly to their actions and even beat them up.
For a point of comparison, Kahnweiler also talks to "Chad," a white man who admits he has never had an altercation with police (despite the comedian's premonition that he'd "be the kind to expose himself at a Dodgers game").
Then Kahnweiler turns to police. At first, one officer is completely unaware of what "white privilege" is, but even after hearing an explanation, he disagrees that it exists. So Kahnweiler puts her disputed privilege to the test: She engages in public drunkenness, trespasses on private property, strips down in public and even tries to sell drugs to a couple of police officers — to absolutely no consequences.
"You know that's illegal, right?" One officer asks her after she tries selling him her anti-depressants. "You're becoming a drug dealer by selling them," he helpfully explains, before letting her go on with her day.
While Kahnweiler's take on white privilege is certainly funny, it also exposes a very real form of discrimination in our society. Police shoot and kill black individuals almost twice as frequently as any other racial group, Mother Jones reported in 2014, also finding that black people were about four times as likely to die in custody or while being arrested than white people. According to the NAACP, black people "represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense." Additionally, when they're in prison, they spend nearly as much time for drug crime as they would for violent crime (about four to five years).
We can laugh about how blatant this racial disparity is, therefore, but we must also recognize that there's plenty of crucial work to be done that's no laughing matter at all.
h/t Huffington Post