I Wrote My Neighbor a Poem. part 2
I almost succumb to the typical rigamarole.
“I’m not like the others, I’m not from around here”
I have heard that from enough wounded men to know that despite any claims, they are likely not as different as they aspire to be.
I have heard that from enough friendly-faced white women to know that despite claims to dismantle “the patriarchy” they are still cooking under-seasoned meals and performing enthusiastic fellatio for the patriarchy that pays the car note on their foreign crossover and sends their blond hair kids to enrichment programs.
But I almost fell for it, like I’ve done a thousand times before.
Thinking maybe we could reach some agreement of mutual respect. Maybe we would color each other’s friend circles and lives.
But honestly, she wouldn’t come to my house.
wouldn’t show up.
Maybe if I was a few days postpartum she would show up with casserole or to do a load of laundry.
Maybe if I was recovering from a particularly aggressive bout of the flu, she would emerge on my porch with her grandmother’s cure-all recipe and a side of bacon pinwheels because she forgot I don’t eat pork.
Maybe she would think of me when her PTO was looking for speakers for black history month. But would she consider me when her PTO wanted speakers on career day? Or is my only existence to function as the black version of some role she’d hoped to fill in her life.
But would we ever genuinely be friends or would there always be an idea of me being acceptable at her house on her terms when her husband’s immature (read homophobic) friends, or her old-fashioned (read racist) parents weren’t around. Would she feel like I was a friend or just a cool person to invite to gatherings to demonstrate to her real friends that she was both cool and enlightened enough to have black friends. Would we share emotional vulnerability or just pasta salad recipes? Cause I got Pinterest.
I drafted an email reply.
I even tried to send it.
After 24 hours I was notified that some weird server issue left my response unsent.
I tried again.
Somewhere between navigating the impossible tech needs of a startup and trying to send my feelings to a complete stranger, there was a breakdown that left me with time to rethink. To evaluate what I actually wanted to say and why it was not what I had written. I actually should have said:
I see you got my email. I see that after a year those same yard signs remain in your yard. I see that you feel justified and different than your nearest neighbors. Interesting.
Did you catch that news article last month? Your neighborhood, your city is the wealthiest city in this state. Do you find it incredibly peculiar that the borders between us are so thick and yet appear nonexistent? That border feels like a 2-way mirror to me. Your community is allowed to live in picturesque isolation believing that the mirror on the wall is a beautifully placed art piece. From my perspective, I see the insular community of resources building the privileged lives of the next generation of racial and cultural disparity.
I tried to write you back, but honestly, I’m glad it didn’t send.
Because WHY THE FUCK did you think it was appropriate to try and add me on facebook? How did you even find me? and why? Why?
I wrote you anonymously. For a reason. I don’t know what cop, land-stealing city manager, or hypercritical, culturally inept medical professional you are or may be married to. Why would you be allowed to view the photos of my kids and my garden? So yes, I deleted the request and I hope I blocked you.
This patch of land on this heavily trafficked poorly kept road is my home. It is where I create sanctity for my husband who is at best perceived as suitable for reaching items on the high shelves when he is shopping and at worst is a threat that fits the description. This place is where we create an oasis of coping skills to manage the bouts of depression and anxiety from trying to force a life of joy out of systemic racism and other othering. This place, where my kids can’t comfortably ride their bikes is our only safety net in the world.
Why would I allow you to be a part of something so intimate without knowing you? What gave you the authority to force yourself into my life?
You claim to be unaware of the historical redlining and perpetual boundaries of this city yet, you see no wrong in you stepping this line. and why? Because you “really want to know” who is behind sending you messages to your house?
Because your desires are more important than my safety? How very typical of you. Maybe, you are less different than you realize.
May you find success in interrogating your own life and contribution to change as you do in proclaiming your wokeness with your yard signs. It’s not just donations to charities, it's not just volunteering to help out, it’s not just reading the best-selling whitewashed versions of black women’s research with your wine glass full. We are people over here. We are dying. We know that you, ain’t coming to our rescue.