How many more of these stories do we need to see before we all acknowledge that white privilege is, you know, real?
Sheila Stubbs is a Wisconsin State Assembly candidate in Madison’s 77th District. In a recent Capital Times feature, she described an incident in which she was questioned by the cops while campaigning in a predominantly white neighborhood:
“FULLY OCCUPIED SILVER 4 DR SEDAN NEWER MODEL – THINKS THEY ARE WAITING FOR DRUGS AT THE LOCAL DRUG HOUSE – WOULD LIKE THEM MOVED ALONG,” read the notes from the call for service, made shortly before 7 p.m. on Aug. 7.
The driver of the car was 71-year-old Linda Hoskins. Her 8-year-old granddaughter sat in the backseat. Her daughter, Shelia Stubbs, stood nearby, talking to a resident of the neighborhood in his doorway. The two women and the child are all African-American.
Stubbs, 46, was a candidate for state Assembly and a 12-year veteran of the Dane County Board of Supervisors. She was knocking doors, introducing herself to voters in the 77th Assembly District. Exactly one week later, her name would appear on the ballot in the Democratic primary election, which she would win with nearly 50 percent of the vote.
These stories have become all too commonplace lately, but while racial tensions definitely got worse following the election of the inciter-in-chief, I can only assume that such incidents are part of the background noise people of color have had to endure for decades.
“It's 2018,” Stubbs said in an interview. “It shouldn't be strange that a black woman's knocking on your door. I didn't do anything to make myself stand out. I felt like they thought I didn't belong there.”
Yup. And Madison, Wisconsin, isn’t exactly Hayward. It’s still predominantly white, but it’s part of a progressive, increasingly diverse metropolitan area whose residents should know better. I lived there for several years, and it’s not unusual to see an African-American person knocking on doors or sitting in a car.
It’s also not okay to simply dismiss this as an isolated incident or a minor inconvenience. As we’ve discovered over and over again, far too often such encounters can be deadly.
“It's just not OK,” Stubbs said. “When you specifically target people of color and call the police, sometimes there's different outcomes.”
At this point in the campaign, she said, constituents had received three pieces of campaign mail from her. She’d been featured in media coverage, and she’d been a local elected official for more than a decade. It should not have been alarming to see her knocking on doors in the district, she said.
“I think it was the hardest journey of my life,” she said of the experience.
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