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same ish, different century

My dad has been into real estate since before I was born.  It’s what he likes to do – buy a place that needs some fixing up, fix it up, and rent it out.  Well, he bought some places earlier this year, and has been fixing them up for the past several months.  The cops are all over the neighborhood in which he bought – I suspect because they had a lot of empties in the subdivision and they want to make sure they don’t turn into crack houses.  That, and, parking in front of an empty duplex makes for a good spot to nap til something’s actually up.  So he has seen and talked to a lot of the cops that patrol there.

So even though it’s been crawling with cops, the neighborhood’s still had it’s share of issues.  Dad went back to the places about a month ago, to find that one had been broken into.  He called the cops, I don’t think much was actually missing [all he had there was tile, ceiling fans, and laminate – none of which was taken], but a couple doors were badly damaged.  It took forever for the cops to come, but they did, and I think my dad filed a report.

Last week or the week before, he was there – maybe still asleep – when a cop started banging on the door.  He came to the door after getting dressed, and three cops were standing there to ask him who he was and why he was there.  He told them he’d have to go get his ID, so they barged right in after him as he went back to get it.  As he was walking, he explained that he’d bought the place and was fixing it up.  He even showed them the door that had been broken into and told them about how he’d called them himself just a few weeks prior.  They asked for proof of ownership, and so he had to go out to the car to get it – they followed again.

Apparently, they were a couple of white cops and a black cop.  Dad said that when the black cop saw him with his pants covered with paint and the stuff in the house, he backed off and was sure that he was there to fix up the place as he said.  The white cops needed the proof of ownership.

All I heard as he told me this story so matter-of-factly was that my father – who will be 65 next month – still cannot get respect from police.  Being a black man means that age/station/class/etc. don’t mean anything.  And it hurt.  Hurt, especially, that after all he’s already lived through – Jim Crow South and all – it’s 2009 and it’s the same ish.

So,

I shouldn’t have been surprised when a friend on facebook posted the story about Henry Louis Gates yesterday.  But I was.

And hurt all over again.

See, my mom called me yesterday to tell me that she was going to have to go have dinner with a woman from church last night.  It seems that she spoke at their church this past wknd, and referred to “colored churches” when discussing differences in worship style.  No one said anything at the time because they weren’t all quite sure that they’d heard it.  The next day, Mom talked to a couple other people who were there and they asked – “did we hear what we thought we heard?”  And Mom thought – I’ve got to talk to this woman…she’s got to know that was unacceptable.

And yet, with all this, and SO much more I’m not even mentioning [the BART incident, the vilification of Malia, etc] I still know people who have the nerve to say

Barack Obama has evidenced proof of the American Dream and shown that the practice of racial discrimination and oppression on a national/societal level is a closed chapter of American history.

I won’t link to that, but yeah…I know her.  And a few other people I know think the same way.

And seeing other folks comments about this HLG incident [he was at fault, too – blah blah blah] just brings me back to what macon d says here:

To think that I could really have much of any idea at all what it’s like to be black in such all-too-familiar (for black people) moments. And yet, I think we white people do that all the time.

Yeah.  Same ish.

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One thought on “same ish, different century

  1. i wish i just hadn’t read this because now i am really upset. he didn’t have to let them in the house.

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