..."there's someone lurking in the darkness and now he's at our front door!" Typically the description would read, "Tall, armed, black hoodie, dark jeans, brown boots, red book-bag and Black male" . . . but not this time. At around 2:30 a.m. this morning, this description was right at our front door, but it wasn't a "Black" male, he was White.
In that moment, when fear of your safety, of your life is in question, what do you do? Most people's emotions race. You cut lights on, you look for your glasses, your phone to call for the police, to call for help; but in that moment are you really prepared for what happens next?
When the police arrived, ironically, there weren't two, three or four cars that pulled up as when the "typical" description is given. There was one officer, one car and he paroled the streets twice and left. No sight of the man who just minutes ago left our front steps and walked around the corner into the darkness. The reality that even while on the wrong side of a situation, those afforded privilege are still covered.
As I reflect on that moment, I remember trying to figure out, is he on drugs, was he in an accident, is he mentally ill... but then he opened his mouth. "Are you talking to me nigger?" The dynamics of this word and statement. It's derogatory, when spoken by anyone, but it cuts deeper when it's spoken in hatred by someone who's ancestors created the word. In that moment, my mind went back to many situations that have recently happened in this country of those who are entitled to privilege and those fighting against the injustices that privilege upholds.
I thought in that moment, this armed, White male standing on our property at 2:30 in the morning, "are you talking to me . . . nigger?" Did I hear that right? He said it in a way as if he was baiting us. There have been recent local crimes where people act drunk, sick or disabled and then someone jumps out and hits you is so prevalent, it was alarming that he went from acting disheveled to being normal and speaking with such hate. He went from barely moving to suddenly disappearing in the darkness. The history of our community, like a lot in this country, centers on White flight in the 70's and 80's from areas now identified as "Urban." The reverse of this, gentrification, is now unveiling the dynamic of racial profiling and hate crimes of our counterparts within our own communities; noting that many "Urban" communities are already battling Black on Black/Brown on Brown/Black on Brown crime, poverty, homelessness, lack of resources for mental illnesses, poor food/restaurant choices, etc. Now we would be "RACIST" if we profiled our white neighbors who have suspicious activity happening at their house daily; but they don't bother us so we don't bother them. Yet, it's such a double standard that if it was the other way around, any "suspicious" activity from us would be reported immediately, often times something as simple as just walking to the mailbox or our children walking down the street to the bus stop.
I am a God fearing, educated, community and family oriented Black male living in America but in that moment of having to make a choice of love over hate, life or death, right, wrong or indifferent, my decision making was challenged. What if he pulled his gun out and I shot mine first? Would it still be self defense? Would he be "mentally ill" and I "threatening?" If the shoe was on the other foot, it wouldn't have even been a conversation or a need for it. The headlines would have read, "Armed Black male attempting to rob a family was shot and killed!" People would rejoice because the "bad guy" lurking in the dark was taken out. We are safe again! Another one bits the dust is how America looks at protecting certain citizens. What about all citizens? Innocent children of color are subjected to EVERY injustice America offers, even if they're doing the right thing. Good kids subjected to the school to prison pipeline, educational case studies that experiment on them through privatization of schools,the war on drugs, gang violence and the list goes on of things that we consciously ignore and silently accept.
Race matters! If we're honest, racism is embedded in all of us. We may not display hatred towards others, treat them differently or even stereotype them, but we all take pride in our culture, our heritage, in the commonality of what links us together and we protect it. I'm not a Racist, but I will always be on the side of my race. That doesn't mean I'm wrong. If I don't stand up for a higher standard not just for my race, but for all people, then I fall in line with the millions of other people in this country who hate others just because their skin color, their religion, their sexuality, their beliefs are different.
Our society has mastered dividing us by labels,seen clearly by racial divides, religious exploitation, economic constraints, religious, media, entertainment, education, government; systems designed to keep the masses of people not afforded privilege oppressed through images, ideologies and propaganda that keeps us distracted, unaware and unfocused on the realities right in front of our face. Wake up now...because when the enemy lurking is at your front door steps, that's when what's next happens.
It's freedom time now. . .