It’s a story we’ve seen repeated several times over 2018 (but usually in another context, as we’ll see). A kid is selling lemonade, water, or in this case, cookies, and has the police called on them.
A concerned neighbor claims 10-year-old Savannah Watters was risking the safety of children in their neighborhood with the amount of traffic her cookies brought in.
“Well we’ve had a little girl that’s been selling cookies and water for four weeks and the traffic is getting to the point that they’re using our driveway to turn around…which is fine…but they almost hit my daughter. I mean it’s just getting…it’s getting out of control,” a neighbor said in a call to police.
Savannah says her business was going really well until her neighbors called police and that she had no idea anyone had issues with it.
“I wish that we could have known first, ‘cause we didn’t know anything. And it’s just hard to believe that they didn’t come talk to my mom first,” Savannah said.
Eventually the police told the girl she can keep selling from her driveway.
Authorities told Savannah she could continue selling as long as she moved into her driveway.
All’s well that ends well, I guess?
This story is different than some of the others widely circulated though. Why? Because this little girl was white.
Given that, there were no vague charges of racism and there won’t be days of cable news coverage. They’ll be no saggy looking old white lady profusely apologizing and insisting she had no racist intentions. This won’t spark a “national conversation” on race.
Have there been a rash of stories about white people calling the cops on black people for seemingly nominal things? Yes. That’s also partly a product of the media’s narrative building and specific choosing of those stories to publicize. You can Google dozens of stories about white people calling the cops on white people for stupid things as well, such as this little girl selling cookies. They just don’t make CNN.
That’s not to say that racism couldn’t of possibly played a role in many of the stories we’ve seen pushed this year, but it is to say that it’s worth considering other motivations such as the following.
People can be jerks. They can be selfish. They can often rationalize doing silly, stupid things to others, convinced they are doing something justifiable and right. This manifests itself among all demographics of interactions.
Every time a white person interacts negatively with a black person, it’s not necessarily racism. Maybe sometimes it is? The point being that the entire country could benefit from a cool down over such claims if the evidence is lacking. Notice that even in regards to the Starbucks ordeal, which dominated headlines for almost a month, we still don’t have any real evidence that the white, liberal barista in question was actually a rabid racist.
I’m not suggesting there aren’t times where racism plays a role in interactions. I’m suggesting that such accusations should be thrown around a little less often in the absence of evidence. Sometimes, people aren’t being racist. They are just being jackasses.