Tuesday, 9 April 2013

This is not funny.

You know you live in an "upper-middle-class" white neighborhood when you are considered a suspect in a daylight robbery case for walking around wearing a hoodie and sunglasses.

It's almost like the Trayvon case, only instead of the neighborhood watch, it was [township name] police and instead of gun, it was a savage German Shephard police dog (K9 unit), a police cruiser, a patrol car, and a whole lot of intimidation techniques, including targeting exhibited weaknesses such as a) fear of dogs, b) panic disorder, and c) years of institutionalized oppression.

And instead of being black, the suspect is guilty of being slightly less WASP-y looking than the rest of the residents, and he was talking on an expensive smartphone, which indicates that he is either planning a robbery or selling drugs, because people who wear black and have long hair and piercings and facial hair are criminals, especially if they look masculine.


I am SO glad I get a full tax refund.

Our schools suck, our roads may as well be made of cobblestones and bits of broken glass, and our police department has nothing better to do on a bright Sunday afternoon than bring three on-duty patrol vehicles (including the K9 unit) to confront a twenty-year-old going for a walk...because he was going for a walk..and utilize every intimidation technique in the book to make sure he is beaten down and knows his place, and scared enough that he wouldn't dare lodge a complaint, because he looks like an easy target and with all those pockets on his pants it would be simple to plant an ounce of weed on him. Maybe more!

Isn't it sad that we are FORCED to support "law enforcement" like this?


I'm terrified right now, because if you couldn't guess, the "suspect" named above was/is me.

I already have a terrible fear of law enforcement, which is exactly what they want. They intimidate people into keeping quiet, just like a good servant of a nanny state ought to.

I'm sick of it, though. I am targeted, and I even made the mistake of telling them I have panic attacks and I'm afraid of dogs.

I had a complete panic attack and nervous breakdown, in broad daylight, on the road in front of my house, and the police officer asked if I needed an ambulance, and I guess I said no, so he drove away, leaving me there on the ground hyperventilating and unable to see, hear, or speak clearly.

The worst part is that I don't remember his name. Joe, I think. Last name was Italian. Bald. Or balding? Big guy. Instantly scary. I wish I could have run away, but he probably would have shot me. I was at the bottom of my driveway. My house. Where I live. I wish I could have run away. I should have. I should have run as soon as I saw police anything. But they would shoot me. There is absolutely nothing to say they wouldn't, and here's why:

I said I was having a panic attack. I managed to choke those words out. If a panic attack is not interrupted (and there are many ways so to do), it can cause a myriad problems relating to oxygen deprivation and extreme hormonal/neurotransmitter influx. A serious panic attack can turn into cardiac arrest if not treated. It is a medical issue. It is a health concern. It is clear and present danger with regards to the individual. 

And the police drove away. 

They left me there, on the ground, gasping for breath, sweating bullets on a 35-degree day in wintertime.

They are liable for so many things. They can lose their jobs, their careers, their pensions, their badges, their firearms licenses, their benefits, their tax breaks, and their diplomatic immunity (let's get real here, connections get you places). 

They can be liable for lots of money in damages. 

If only I knew how to complain, and to whom, and about what.

I am too scared, though. I am too scared that they will laugh at me, or arrest me for badmouthing the police, or for thought crimes, or plant weed on me (don't deny that it happens, again, let's get real). I'm also scared that the more likely situation would come true - that they'd simply deny it.

And since it's the word of a police officer against the word of a mentally disabled, unemployed 20-year-old college dropout, well...you can probably guess how that would go.


On 5 April 2013, between 1300h and 1830h, a home in [my neighborhood] was burglarized. The suspect(s) stole jewellery from the master bedroom as well as "items" from the rest of the house after forcing the door in.

The police seriously suggested "don't keep your jewellery in the master bedroom."

What the actual fuck? That sounds an awful lot like "she was dressed like she was asking for it." Like, seriously, how reactionary can you get?! Holy shit. It's 2013.

The suspect(s) remain at large.


I'm going to hide out places and try and catch the actual burglar(s).

In the unlikely scenario they target our house (it might look like an easy target, but it also doesn't look like there's anything valuable inside, because there's not, and the other houses look empty and richer in general because they are both) I crave the opportunity to jump them and viciously attack them for their crimes against me. It's because of people like them that I am being intimidated into not going for walks around my own damn neighborhood in broad daylight. I can instantly think of several weapons in my room alone and a multitude downstairs (we have three knife blocks in the kitchen...three...really?)

After all, it's probably just some kid in a hoodie.

Monday, 8 April 2013

A History of...What You Make of It! (pt. I)

I was reading a discussion - yes, a discussion, not a comment war, for once - on the state of black Americans. Not "people of color," just the black ones.

It's actually a great discussion. Ordinarily if a white person (or, really, anybody) was to say something like "it's not the buildings, the school lunches, white people, or poverty that's the problem - it's the parents not instilling the correct values in their kids," they would be instantly deemed a hateful racist bigot.

But...they'd be correct. And also not a hateful racist bigot, but that goes without saying.
The miserable state of public education in the United States, especially parts of the South and Southwest, has been well-known and well-documented for decades. Decades. I mean, it's not like it magically got better as soon as the Civil Rights Movement finally saw success, but then inexplicably became shitty again in the recent past.

I live in Newtown Township, Pennsylvania, which is comprised entirely of the town of Newtown Square. Newtown Square has grown considerably, and in fact is continuing to grow, but our population is still roughly 12,300. Newtown Square itself is, according to the 2000 census, 96% white. It's logical to assume that this hasn't changed very much. Well, perhaps not logical, but availability heuristics usually make sense around here.

All the new constructions are aimed at rich families, mostly because Episcopal Academy moved to Newtown Square several years ago and, I'll admit, it's a good school. The campus is kinda ugly and industrial-looking, but that's probably just because it lacks the character of a place that wasn't built, you know, within the last five years. At least all their students with cars/licenses can park on campus!*

In any case, Newtown Square and its immediately surrounding areas, except for places like Chester, Marcus Hook, and parts of Upper Providence and Marple Townships, unmistakably exhibit obvious reminders of this area's history as a country (and later, "suburban") retreat for rich Philadelphians, all of whom were white, and a fair amount of whom were actually European. By that, I mean that they are inhabited by rich, or at least "upper-middle-class" white people.

So, in the end, it makes sense that rich black people wouldn't necessarily want to live in a development full of rich white people. Who would?** They're uppity and rude and generally very conservative and, more often than not, religious. In a bad way.*** I'm glad I live in a neighborhood that is mostly retirees and young families. In my neighborhood, at least, people are more down-to-earth, especially the older people.

I mean come on, who can live to 60+ and still think it's sensible to have their heads in the clouds? Some of my neighbors definitely remember the Civil Rights Movement itself, and lots of them were affected in some way or another by the Vietnam War. And there was other stuff that happened. Lots of stuff. Is it in all of our history textbooks? I doubt it.

I remember one time, when I was much younger, talking to a woman who lived a few houses down. I don't recall her name, for whatever reason - assuming I even knew it at the time - but I do remember she just looked like the kind of "little old lady" you'd see at church, or the grocery store, or post office...you know. She wasn't "frail", but definitely old. And she was white. And she told me about how she got kicked out of her home once for marching with black people demanding civil rights - apparently her father was not fond of the idea of her attending college with black people!

Think about it - somebody alive in the 2000s who remembers this. Crazy how far we have come. Crazy, too, how far we have yet to go.


I live with my family in Newtown Square. We are not rich white people. We aren't WASPs. In fact, there's more evidence asserting my father's grandparents were Jews, not Russian Orthodox (what kind of people were trying to get out of Russia in the early 20th century, remember?) like I've been told. And I'm not a Protestant. And there's much more "Saxon" in us than "Anglo." And that also doesn't matter a fucking bit, because we're American, and that's so much simpler and easier to say.

My parents are not old. When I was born, my mother was 28 and my father was 33. That's the age when most couples have children, assuming one or both went to some institute of higher education and then either worked or went to graduate school and then got married, and didn't have kids right away until they knew they could support a family. You know, how responsible (or, admittedly, sometimes overly-cautious) people approach the idea of having kids.

So now, both of my parents are still well under 60. My mother isn't even 50. Oh, and her mother is still alive, as is her mother...my great-grandmother...it was a different time, I suppose!

My father is not old enough to remember the Civil Rights Movement actually happening. He was five when the Act was passed in 1964. My mother was an infant! Oh, but their parents...their parents knew. Their parents had been brought up in a naturally racist culture, even my paternal grandmother (who was born in what is now the Czech Republic). My mother can speak at length about her late father's extensive vocabulary****, including a vast arsenal of racial slurs. Go figure.

Contrast with my father's family - namely his mother and older sister. His mother was a social worker with an impressive resumé. She attended Smith College (you know, the highly-selective and very highly-regarded all-women's college? one of the only such schools in the country? that one) and was apparently so good at what she did that her dissertation was published in 1945.

1945. Woman. Immigrant woman. At a very good college. Hell, at a college! Published author. Highly regarded social worker. My late grandmother.

How many women do you think went to college in 1945? Your guess is as good as mine. But I'll bet a fair amount of my non-existent money that there were not nearly enough to say with any degree of sincerity that women were held to standards as high as men were.

She went to college, graduated, and then got married and raised three children. And worked. She touched the lives of hundreds of people, if not more. She lived to help others. She quietly set an example that is still evident today.

My paternal grandmother died of natural causes in October 2006, in a way a relief to her children and grandchildren. She had been in declining health for years, since I was quite young, and had suffered from a form of dementia for the year or so leading up to her death. I can understand why my father has changed so much since his mother died, especially after losing his father (whose story would occupy another five pages at least) in 1984.

It's all very complicated, isn't it? I shall have to continue this story another day...