As the United States reels in protest against the police killing of George Floyd, a tweet by an anthropology professor at Southern Methodist University in Texas, US, about “white privilege” is going viral on Twitter.
On June 1, the professor, Mark McCoy took to Twitter to tweet to his then 150 followers, following Floyd’s death. He wrote: “George Floyd and I were both arrested for allegedly spending a counterfeit $20 bill … For George Floyd, a man my age, with two kids, it was a death sentence … For me, it is a story I sometimes tell at parties … That, my friends, is white privilege.”
The honest account of the stark difference faced by two people of different races, for the same offence, received a lot of appreciation from across the globe, with over 1 million people marking the tweet with a heart and over 580,000 people retweeting it. The likes and retweets continue to grow.
Reportedly, McCoy also told local television channels he hasn’t watched the video of Floyd’s fatal encounter with police. He said: “I know what’s on it and it’s terrifying to me.”
Floyd died, on May 25, after a Minneapolis police officer kept his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes, after arresting him for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill.
Apparently, in 1994, McCoy was arrested for the exact same offense in Massachusetts. He spent a night in jail, but the charge was dropped after a six-month probationary period.
According to dallasnews.com: “He had bought batteries at a convenience store and used the change at a fast-food restaurant across the street. When he finished eating, a police car was waiting outside to pick him up. McCoy’s grandfather was a police officer, and that helped him pass through the criminal justice system with the self-assurance that everything would be fine as long as he told the truth and cooperated.”
He said: “The reason I didn’t resist arrest and the thing went the way it did is very much about my white privilege, it’s very much about who my grandfather was and how I walk through the world, and my expectations.”
He also told news channels, that “white privilege” is something that we just need to talk about because it exists in the world whether we like it or not.
The tweet sparked a conversation on Twitter, with other American tweeps joining him in recounting similar instances.
@JayceeWallace tweeted: “I was arrested in Wisconsin for something different and was given Reece’s Cups and allowed to charge my phone as we waited and as I was processed. I didn’t realise until recently that my fun party story was indeed white privilege.”
And, @jessicalucero_ who apparently works in a bank, tweeted: “I work the bank, and we don’t even call the cops if we receive a fake bill. We hold on to it and fill out a form. We know that most of the time when we get them, the person doesn’t even know it’s fake.”
In a follow-up tweet @m_d_mccoy posted: “To the more than 2 million who made my last tweet go viral, thank you. To everyone who shared their own story and kind words of support, thank you. To the protesters and the police who took a knee, thank you.”