I don’t have a home. I don’t have a home for my family or me and I don’t know where to go.
The formula didn’t work. You get a creditable education + an admirable career that includes an impressive salary = buy a great house in the best neighborhood multiplied by your kids being in the best schools and safest neighborhoods. Right?
My husband and I got the degrees, the impressive six-figure salaries and moved into one of the most affluent counties in the nation, Marin County where the public schools are some of the best in California. But, I’m questioning if my kids are safe. In theory, they should be. Our neighborhood even uses an online App (Nextdoor.com) that aids us in monitoring our neighborhood happenings. The App is designed to increase our feelings of security, but instead the posts have made me feel that my children are vulnerable:
“If anyone looks out of place…..” We are a Black family that lives in a county that is 97% white and in a neighborhood that is 99.5% White. “If anyone looks out of place…”
My boys are typical, in that they love to be outdoors burning off that testosterone –driven energy. They enjoy all of what makes Marin County so special, the perfect weather, the trees to swing from, the huge hills to coast their scooters down, the basketball courts and soccer fields. They hangout, they walk to their friends homes and to the local shopping center that’s less than a mile away.
They are also typical in that they wear the athletic gear that’s popular with teen athletes: high top basketball gym shoes, big Nike Shorts, shirts stamped with cool slogans. The youngest sports a mid-sized afro.
When I look at my 5’7” oldest son, I see that results from him lifting weights with his dad three times per week; I see his huge smile that has cost us a fortune in orthodontia; I see a chess player, an honors student, a basketball star, a goofy class-clown. I see my 9-pound baby boy. When I look at my youngest son, I see another basketball player, who is also excels at soccer in at school. He loves nothing more than cuddling with me—still—and makes a perfect grilled cheese sandwich.
These posts have made me realize that several of my neighbors see danger.
|What is next? Will one of my sons get followed a la Zimmerman? Will the police be called and will they question my 14 year old? Will my son fearfully begin to fumble his words, will he run, will they shoot him? The latest news stories provide the screenplay to my fears.|
As Trayvon Martin’s face and story fill my thoughts, it seems that episodes of Law and Order begin to fuel those of my neighbor’s. The posts on the Nextdoor App indicate a growing hysteria.
I realized that I was scared. I was scared of my neighbors. Fear is contagious.
So, I sent a note with pictures of my sons through the Nextdoor App.
Please take a moment to review the pictures below of our sons, Zach (14) and Evan (12). We have owned a home in Greenbrae for 10 years and our sons both went to Bacich. While they both attend Cathedral School for Boys in the City presently, Zach will attend Redwood in the Fall. Our sons frequently walk or scooter from our home to their friend’s homes and to the Bon Air shopping center. They usually wear sweats and other athletic gear, as do most teen boys. Zach is quite tall. You may see them walking or hanging out throughout the community. Thank you.
“Please”, I urged them. “Please” take a look at their pictures. Silently, I was saying, please don’t shoot them; please don’t call the police on them; please don’t harass them. Please don’t allow your fear to psychologically tear them down, harden them, place them where I am–scared.
Of course, in my message, I also wanted to include the latest stats of crime in our neighborhood. For instance, I wanted to remined them that crime is lower than it has been in years. Hispanic, Black and yes, White males have been arrested for robberies in our area. I wanted them to refer to their own posts to help them to see the fallacy in their profiling plan:
|But, I knew that their fears were rooted in decades of ignorance and fear. Unfortunately, bigots rarely admit their biases, and definitely aren’t going to have a wake-up, turn-around moment like they do in the movies. So, I just focused my note on who truly mattered: my boys. I got probably 50 supportive responses, but this one let me know that I had done the right thing:|
Randi, I’ve lived here for 26 years and my adult son was followed by a new neighbor. She questioned him, yelled and insisted he didn’t belong in this neighborhood. She then called the police. Until this day, I don’t think my son has recovered from that experience. I am proud of you for speaking out. Our children’s safety is paramount. The world and neighborhood we live in is not as it should be. I send you and your family blessings and all shall be well.
But, now what? I’m still scared for my kids. They formula was to provide them with the safest place. Are they safe here? Even though, I genuinely believe that 90% of my neighbors are good people, fear, hysteria and ego breed illogical fear. All it takes is 1 minute, 1 neighbor, 1 quick judgment for me to get that call. I know that no matter how I dress my sons, what degrees my husband and me have, how neighborly we try to be—to some my boys will “look out of place.”
And we chose this place, this neighborhood, to call home.
Regardless of where we live, in what county or country, in a house or an apartment; home is supposed to be our safe place, a refuge, love, our comfort.
My family is homeLESS.
a refuge, love, our comfort.
My family is homeLESS