Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bigotry, Blurry lines and Blind Justice

This past weekend, while laying out at my community pool, taken advantage of a very glorious day here in South Florida, and catching up on my reading, I witnessed a very ugly scene. One that, still today, when I think about it, boils the blood in my veins.

There is a black family which lives a few houses to the right, and across from my town house. I do not know if all 8 kids that I see playing football or other games in my street belong there. Remember, this is South Florida, and it is not uncommon for people moving in from the Caribbean to do this when they first get here. Lord knows I have a few Hispanic relatives who have done the 'sardine in a can' style of living for a while. This family seems to be Jamaican (not only the accent but the flag on the car gives it away), and they all seem to go in and come out of the same house.

The kids, ranging from 8 -17, are just that, kids. They play ball without much regard to balls smashing cars, or them running into something. Not to mention the need to create loud screams. At the pool, they are some sort of a menace. Running wild around the edge of the pool, screaming, wrestling, splashing. When I go in there and see them in the pool, I know its not going to be a quiet time. Plus, unsupervised, there are times when I have to intervene. I do this in a didactic, non-threatening way. This is definitely a pain in my butt; but they have as much right to be there as I do. Not too long ago, one white adult literally 'bullied' the kids out because they were being too loud. As I was leaving, I told him he could have made his point and act like an adult at the same time.

However, this past Sunday another white male adult did not see their playing as their right. Either that, or like many adults, he thinks that because now he is an adult, he has all the answers. He brought his 7 years old daughter to play. Obviously, this quiet girl, was not going to join the rough horse playing of the boys. To the contrary, she was sort of in the way of these kids playing inside the pool. Not only that but his father sitting outside, was also subject to the effects of the situation.

Here is how I approach my life; if its raining, and I don't want to get wet, I don't go out. The same when I go to the pool; I try to sit as far as possible from the splashing to avoid my books and materials being ruined, while allowing the kids their space to play. But it might happen. So as I was reading my book, I heard the father's first contact with one of the kids " YO, HOMEY, you are getting me wet". My eyes lifted from my book, under my sunglasses, towards the man in a piercing stare; but he wasn't looking at me.

He started asking about their parents, but not in a firm voice, and no one seemed to listen to him. He did not push the issue. There is a rule that says children cannot be unattended at the pool. As the play kept going, he kept getting splashed, the nerf football landed by his girl too many times. What else could you expect. He had enough. He stood up and was resolute to show who was boss; 'Why are you people so loud? This is a residential pool. It belongs to those of us who live here, and we don't like it being that loud. And you are not supposed to be here'.

He was livid! The kids got quiet and scared. The little girl was also scared, continuously staring at her dad. I was working myself up for a big argument. I was afraid because I was so angry, I did not just want to argue. But, how do you berate someone on a racist issue in front of children? While thinking of what I wanted to say and do, he started using some mild cuss words and accusing the boys of taking 'I do not know what' from his wife a couple of weeks ago at the pool. Well, that made me paused, but then I realized that if that was true, or so important, he would have made this his issue since the beginning.

I also realized at that same moment that one or two of the kids had left the pool and ran home to tell their parents. I knew what was coming next and did not want any part of the action. I gathered my things, got up, looked at the man, whom I was ready to tell off, but I also saw his daughter, still looking; frightened. When his eyes met mine, I shook my head in disapproval and disdain, and walked away in obvious disgust. As I was reaching the gate I could see the boys' mother charging towards the pool with the contingent of kids who wanted retribution right behind her. "Are you the man cursing at my kids?" she angrily barked. "No, that will be that guy over there", I replied as I pointed to the man. But, right before I opened my mouth, I heard one of the kids say, "not him mom; he is nice". Before I kept walking, I said "ma'am he deserves what's coming, but he has a point, an adult should be here your kids".

I do not know how the showdown went. All I could think was about the little girl frightened by his dad's myopic and racist actions and consequences. And I thought about these little kids' life, for I had seen two adults already MIS-treating them not for being kids, but black kids. But all that did not matter as much as yesterday when I came in from work; one of them was in his bicycle, and as I got out of my car, he said "nice ride sir", I smiled, looked up and told him "Thanks! Make sure you study and work hard to get one also!" It was his way to gratefully reach out to this NICE male white man!


Blogger erika said...

I guess some people never grow up.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Southern Sweetheart said...

This whole situation would have disturbed me too. There are ways to handle situations like this and clearly his way wasn't the right one.

and I love what you said to the little boy regarding your car -- :)

10:57 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

The father was really a role model alright....I can't believe he would say anything to the kids....if he had a problem he should've tracked down the parents.....I wasn't there....put I know how you felt!!!

Have a great day!!!

2:40 AM  
Blogger kate said...


first,ty for the link... is it legal? lol really... it seems too good to be true... and I didnt 'post' the comment so as not to let too many people knoe of it... let me know...

second, regarding the post, ugggggly!! I think that your comment to the Mom was spot on but unfortunately she was probably to angry to hear it. lol Are the kids allowed at the pool (is it for everyone in the community or just certain members?) I couldnt tell... I am also wondering if the family really just doesnt KNOW how things are done here... that in Jamaca this probably would have been socially acceptable but here in the US it is not. I hate ugly americans! I hope that faced with what you were faced with, that I would have taken the high road too... I may have confronted the guy though. I tend to not be able to keep my mouth shut. (getting me into some trouble over the years, but leading to some interesting situations too!)

Have a great weekend!

7:08 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home