Ah, the wondrous word, 'privilege'. Let me tell you about privilege on this side of the water.

A young Black man is driving a new, rather expensive, car through a dodgy area of Birmingham at night. He is pulled over by a police car. He stops straight away, jumps out of the car as the officer approaches and says, in the distinctive accent of a private school/Russell Group University education "Good evening, officer. What can I do for you?"

"Just a routine check, sir." The (White) officer replies. "This is a bit of a nasty area, and that's a nice car. Are you sure you're OK?"

"Perfectly fine, officer. Missed my exit on the motorway, but I know my way from here!"

Absent any smell of drink or cannabis, the officer nods. "Mind how you go, sir."

Later, a young White man is driving a similar car down the same road, and is pulled over by the same officers. He winds the window down, grins and says "Y'all roight, mate?", as your average working class Brummie will.

"Is this your car?" Asks the officer. The lad confirms this.

He is then ordered out of his car into the back of the police car, after being patted down for weapons and drugs. He is intensively questioned. He produces a clean photocard licence which matches the bank card and work ID he's also carrying. The DVLA computer confirms that the vehicle is registered to him, properly taxed, has a valid MoT and the correct insurance. Despite there being no smell of alcohol or evidence of drug use, he is breathalysed and swab-tested. Meanwhile, the other officer has searched the car from boot to glove box. In the end, the boy is letr og, with a dour promise that the officers will be 'looking into this'.

I was told this story by a police sergeant who was a long-time friend of my wifes' family. He went on to tell me that it emerged the young White lad had worked weekends and overtime for two years to save up for that car. Meanwhile, the Black lad was involved in an accident an hour later, and was found to have been driving his fathers' car, without permission or proper insurance.

It's not how you look that accords privilege over here, it's how you speak. I've had shop assistants and security in London treat me with suspicion and contempt because of my Northern accent. A waiter in a restaurant in Dorchester neglected to bring my wife and I the wine list; when I asked for it, he replied "Sorry, sir, but with your accent I thought you'd want beer!"

'Privilege' need not only be prefixed by White. Class goes before it as well, so does Regional.

Snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, walker of paths less travelled by. Advocate-in-Ordinary to His Satanic Majesty.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store