Its 2008, but you’d think it was forty years ago.
I had just gotten my mail, and was sifting through and sorting—junk mail—bills—catalogues (I scarcely ever get any real mail any more). There was this insistant pounding on my front door. I’m expecting a package, and since the mail truck was parked right out front, I thought maybe it was the carrier doing the standard knock-on-the-door-to-alert-the-resident-that-a-package-is-on-their-porch routine.
I was wrong.
It was my neighbor J who was brimming with tears. She asked if I had seen what was out front of our home. I hadn’t. We’ve been harassed, robbed, vandalized. Our cars have both been keyed. Somebody has been climbing up into our raised garden (as in, raised a good five feet, so that to get into the garden, one must take some serious effort) and peering into our windows. Our plants have been cut down. My tires have been knifed. I’ve been robbed. My screen window has been shredded. Mud balls have been thrown at our windows. Our porch lights have been removed. Lord, what next? I wondered.
It was the house across the street, a little yellow place that I was told was once a little ma and pa grocery. A huge swastika and the words “KKK” and “Nigger” were scrawled across the front of the home—the total message being about 6 feet wide by 5 feet tall. J said she’d been crying in shock and horror since she’d seen it. A very nice African American grad student lives there. Quiet. Neighborly.
I wondered if the people on the corner—adjacent to this little house, and a part of the same property—knew about this. J didn’t know. So the two of us and her son went to inquire. We noticed then that the Obama yard sign in this yard was also vandalized. It had a swastika emblazoned across the front of it, and “for president” was scribbled out and “for slave trade” scrawled in. On the other side, below the swastika, was a drawing of a confederate flag and the words “all niggers must die”.
We were both horrified.
The little lady who lives there is legally blind. We carefully guided her to her sign, and she became very afraid. She’s not black. But she’s certainly old enough to remember hate crimes before the 60s, and she told us she was born in Sierra Leone and holds dual citizenship. I advised her to call the police and get a hate crime recorded. I told her I didn’t think it was anything personal to her and that I don’t think she’s in any danger. On the other hand, I’m not so sure about the gentleman who lives in the desecrated house next door (I didn’t tell her that).
The officer came very quickly, and he was as horrified as the rest of us, though he was very comforting to our victimized neighbor. J and I have been organizing an informal neighborhood watch group, and of course we quickly got this neighbor E involved. She said she can’t see, and doesn’t know how she’d help. I said she didn’t need to see, she could alert us to anything she might hear, and we could be her eyes on her property. It’s right across the street, after all.
Well, the Obama sign is an artifact of history: it will someday be indicative of another phase in American development (or the lack thereof amongst certain groups in this, the 21st Century).
Regardless how anyone feels about political affiliation, such vitriolic racism and utter disregard for property value is not merely ignorant, but so debased as to be something only those who have corrupted their souls can be capable of.
In any case, such begins the “race isn’t an issue” general election season.