Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Taking Our Country Back" : One Innocent Black Teenager At A Time?

Any Black mother and father in this country must go to bed and wake up every day with a heavy heart.  They wonder if today is going to be that day when they get a knock at their door and they are greeted by a cold stare offering meaningless apologies. When a child is brought into this world, its’ parent wishes for nothing more than to see his or her child attain adulthood and take their place in society.  But for Blacks in America, every day is an inner nightmare.  Blacks were brought up the Hudson 400 years ago to build this country with their blood, sweat and tears; yet every generation finds itself battling for acceptance and survival in this country.

I came to this country over thirty years ago and I learned the rules fast.  In England, my eleven year old son would go to the local playground to ride his bike, play with his friends and I had the confidence that he would be safe.  He went to the market most Saturday mornings alone and would return with old coins, the latest album, or his favorite comic book.  All that freedom to enjoy his surroundings came to an abrupt end in that North-East Philadelphia neighborhood.  The people made us know we did not belong.  Mind you, these were “God-fearing” people who “loved their God and Country” without limits, yet viewed us as space aliens. 

The first day of our new life in Philadelphia, my four year old daughter tried to make friends with the neighborhood children playing in their front yards.  She was greeted with these words from a parent: “Go back where you come from.”  My daughter could not understand what that meant, because we came from London, where she attended nursery school with children of all ethnicities, and had never experienced such open and unwarranted hostility from any adult.  As a result, I began to keep an even tighter rein on my children, especially my son, to whom I had to explain why America was not like England.  He was not allowed out by himself anymore, not even to the neighborhood shop.  

I must commend one little old lady for her bravery, because she refused to participate in her neighbors’ plan to shun us.  She made it her duty to come to my house to inform me of their scheme.  I sent them warning through her that where I grew-up, no one messes with other people’s lives - or they might live to regret it.  For the next eighteen months, I lived on that street with my head held high.  My children became the darlings of some of the neighbors, and my front yard was like a magnet for their children.

Americans may why wonder why I feel so strongly about the death of a Black boy in Florida that I do not even know.  I could be that young boy’s grandmother waiting for him to return from an errand.  Or, he could have been my son growing up in this country, where certain sections still seem to exist in the dark ages. 

“Hoodies” have become the signature clothing of most young people in this country.  And, for God sake, why should people not be free to wear what the hell they like without fear of being shot by hate-mongers?  I remember pulling the hood of my children’s coats snuggly around their faces to keep out the biting, winter cold.  

My son and daughter are now adults, but I sleep lightly.  They are still being profiled, even though we have always lived in so-called Middle class neighborhoods, or Suburbia.  A few short years ago, my son and a work colleague were returning from lunch, driving the speed limit, minding their business, when my son noticed a police car following him.  If you know my son, he is extremely cautious in every facet of his life, especially behind the wheel.  Nonetheless, he was followed all the way back to his place of work, and only then did the police turn around and speed away. 

Similarly, when my daughter was in college, she was stopped while driving through our neighborhood.  The officer said she had a knitted hat on, and he could not see her face.  He ticketed her for a rolling stop.  Every driver in California does a rolling stop with impunity.  She fought it, and the officer was never more surprised when she showed up in court, well-dressed and well-spoken.  The Judge gave her community service at a local theater.  These incidents happened in Northern California.  And quite recently, my daughter, who still lives at home, had an officer follow her all the way to our front door.  Can anyone imagine how frightening and unnerving that was for a hard-working, single woman returning home late at night from a long commute?

People talk about democracy in America, and I do wonder if they know what it means?  They hate communism and totalitarianism, but I think those Americans who want to take other people’s rights to dress in whatever manner they deem suitable, are the real danger to freedom in this country.  Ten years ago, it was the big shirts and baggy pants; before that it was the knitted hats - and now it’s the hoodies.  Get a life people, and live!  

People are up in arms about “taking their country back” and some of them have not even been in America one generation.  Blacks have been here generations too numerous to count; yet, they obviously still have no Civil Rights.  Some American politicians running for the office of President talk about colonizing space, and they can not even inhabit the earth peacefully.  How can Americans run around the world expounding their warped rules on democratic freedom, when its’ own citizens live in fear of walking to a neighborhood store to buy candies?  America will never be respected as a true world super-power until it treats all of its’ legal citizens with respect and dignity. 

© 2012 Mouth Wired Shut

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