WASHINGTON — The author of “Waking UP” said she was not surprised to discover she was racially profiled while writing her book.
Author Jennifer E. Johnson told CBC News on Tuesday she was surprised to find her character’s name on a list of people of color on the list of “whites” she was writing about.
“The list is so racist, I was like, ‘Oh my god,'” Johnson said.
“And then the next thing I know I was walking down the street in the middle of the night and the next morning, I had a conversation with the police officer who said, ‘I’m not going to be a racist.’
And I said, you’re not a racist.
And the next time I see you, you’ll be a real racist.”
Johnson was in the midst of writing a book about her life growing up in South Carolina when she was profiled by police in 2015, after which Johnson said she started thinking about the impact of racism in her community.
In a post on Facebook about her experience, Johnson wrote, “I am a white person, and the way I see the world is through a lens of whiteness.”
Johnson said she thought it was important to talk about the way her life was impacted by racism.
She said she learned that police in the area of South Carolina were known to target black people, including women and people of colour, for arrest.
Johnson, who is now a senior fellow at the University of Southern California, said that when she began researching her book, she wanted to make sure that the character was white.
I thought it would be really fun to write a white woman, but I realized it was also very hard to write,” Johnson said on CBC Radio’s Power & Politics.
The book has been described as a “horror novel,” and it is about a young girl whose family has been evicted from a plantation after slavery ends in the South.
Since she was a child, Johnson said, she has always been able to see the past through the present.
But, she said, when she read the list, she realized that “white” was not necessarily something that “everyone was aware of.” “
[I wanted] a character that’s not a token, that has a white skin,” Johnson added.
But, she said, when she read the list, she realized that “white” was not necessarily something that “everyone was aware of.”
“And I was surprised because I didn’t know this was happening in South Carolinas,” Johnson continued.
“I didn’t even know that there was a white privilege system.”
Johnson said that the racial profiling is not new.
A 2014 book by historian Michelle Alexander called “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” found that “black people of all races were routinely and systematically stopped, searched, and arrested at the same rate as white people.”
She added that police officers are often referred to as “whitewashed” and “white people” because of their skin color.
During the first half of the 20th century, there was widespread racial profiling in the United States.
While Johnson said it’s important for people of different races to know what they are expected to do in certain situations, she added, “it’s also important to remember that when you see police officers doing their jobs, you see them doing a job they’re supposed to be doing, which is to protect the community and to protect themselves and their communities.”
In her book “Wake Up,” Johnson explores the racial dynamics of her life in South Florida.
After she was arrested in 2016 for disorderly conduct, she began reading about her experiences and was shocked to discover that police also stopped her for making eye contact with a white man who was about to get out of a police car.
At one point, she told Reid, she was asked to get into the car and the officer said, “We don’t have a car for you right now.”
But when she told the officer she was white, she continued to be arrested.
According to Johnson, she decided to take a stand against racism after her arrest.
She said she wrote the book after realizing how her life could be affected by racism in the community.