Black Lives Matter

8 Jul

When we lived in New Orleans in the 1980s, we first moved in to the back house of what had been a plantation mansion. It occurs to me now that this house was probably the servants’ quarters, so where the house slaves lived. The owner was one Wendell T. Dyer, a completely unreconstructed Southerner of the old stripe, who had “devoted” black housekeepers and who believed that women weren’t as intellectual as men! He was a complete gentleman to us, but we soon felt so uncomfortable living there that we moved to a shotgun house on a one-block street where each house had a Gothic romance kind of story behind its inhabitants. A few weeks later, while walking to the bank to get money to go to my father’s funeral, my 2-year-old in tow, I was robbed at gunpoint by a 16-year-old black kid. When the police came to take my statement, there standing on the street corner was Wendell’s black housekeeper. She was so dismayed to hear that the robber had been a black teenager. When Wendell heard about it, he acted like his prejudices were vindicated: “see what I mean about the Negro in this city?” he said. To which I replied, “And if it had been a white teenager, which it could easily have been, would you then expect me to walk on the other side of the street every time I saw a white teen coming toward me?” He did not like that response. And when I told him that the first house I had gone to for some support and comfort was that of our black neighbors–both counselors and teachers–he just walked away from me, shaking his head at the idiocy of Yankees. The cops who came to take my statement, by the way, were both black.
I really had hoped that now, 30 years later, these kind of attitudes about black youth would have changed. But the police response to young black men seems to have deteriorated. What can we do as white people to change this horrific system?

2 Responses to “Black Lives Matter”

  1. Anna M. Rodriguez July 8, 2016 at 8:59 pm #

    You might like to listen to this… https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/sets/listening-for-july-8

    • Erika A Esau July 8, 2016 at 9:15 pm #

      Thanks.

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