My Youth Of White Crime

I was treated like a white kid and just got away with it

From the Lil Dicky song, White Crime

I grew up in a 99% white suburb and we were criminal as fuck. Drinking, drugs, petty theft, trespassing, arson, you name it. Is teepeeing illegal? Teepeeing. Basically everything except assault. Every sort of property damage we could come up with, however, we were bored. Also counterfeiting. I think about that when I think about George Floyd.

George Floyd was accused of passing a counterfeit $20 note and executed in the street. But we used to counterfeit fivers all the time.

A five-dollar bill had (has?) a little strip on the right side. We used to slice the top with a razor blade, pull the strip out, and then scotch tape it to a dollar bill. Suddenly a dollar looked like a fiver, to a machine. We’d feed these into soda machines and get a lot of drinks, or a Coke and change. Sometimes. We were shitty counterfeiters. We usually just ended up with mangled fivers.

A stupid crime, but still a crime. Nobody stood on my neck. Even if they caught us, it just would never have happened. We were a bunch of dumb suburban kids. If we ever got caught they would’ve just called our parents — but we never got caught. No one was even looking. My main experience with the police was that they played in some shitty band to tell us not to do drugs. They never arrested us for the drugs we were actually doing.

Abolishing the police = white suburb

People ask what a world without police would be like and that’s just a white suburb. As teenagers, we ran around doing dumb shit without any thought of the cops, and certainly no thought of prison. We had a curfew and the cops would sometimes follow us after 11, but the only penalty was that they would just send us home. Once I was caught out late with a girlfriend and the cop just called my mom. It was embarrassing but that was it. Which is all it should be.

If you’re thinking about criminal justice reform, I think it’s simple. Just treat everyone like they’re a rich white boy. Instead of a public defender, everyone should be given a public white boy to go stand for them at trial, and a white mother. You don’t even need a lawyer. That case will just disappear.

Just let people go

I lived a life of white crime, but I never did any time. I just filled out my college applications and went away. We all did. We were druggies, arsonists, and thieves but they just let us get away and we went on to be productive adults. Criminality may in fact be correlated with entrepreneurship. Indeed, the most enterprising people I knew were drug dealers.

As my cohort grew up we still got away with it. Someone like me is far likely to be involved in white-collar crime — wage theft, tax evasion, fraud, maybe bringing down an entire economy. These are all far more costly than petty theft, but far more likely to incur nothing or a slap on a wrist. We grew up thinking that we could get away with it and as adults, we could.

I think there’s a lot to be said with just letting people get away with it. If we prioritized prosecution based on actual damages there’d be a lot more bankers in the clink and less petty thieves, but I don’t see that changing. Why not just treat everyone like a banker?

White lives and increasingly Asian lives matter, so we don’t destroy them. Just treat black people the same.

The golden rule

I’m saying this as a reformed criminal. I got away with it and these are just fun (sorry Amma, shameful) stories for me. I’m not a cost to society. My life wasn’t ruined. Meanwhile, kids in urban Columbus got arrested and tossed into the system for doing the same things. All I’m saying is treat people the same.

That’s all I think anyone deserves. It’s the golden rule. Treat every kid in jail like your kid, call the manager and get them out. Imagine them as white if it helps. Focus your enforcement on the high-scale crime that actually damages people — wage theft, tax evasion — ie, crimes by rich people. And treat jail like you do for white people. Give suspended sentences liberally, or send them someplace nice for a few months.

Technically, you don’t even have to change the system. Just pretend like everyone is rich and white. In practice, of course, this means blinding the cyclops, which makes it so angry you might as well dismantle and defund the police. But the result isn’t anarchy. It’s just a white suburb.

My plea is simple. I was a brown kid but treated as white. Just give black people the same opportunity. I was treated as if my life matters. I was left alone. Black lives matter too.