And right now we are shocked.
Wednesday night, while I was away, a new restaurant down the street was the scene of a hate crime. A young black man was beaten and cut with broken bottles. The article appeared on the front page of The Patriot Ledger, the local newspaper. I was stunned. It's very rare that anything slips by me in this little village, which came into its own in 1640. We've been here a while. Things are close-knit. Secrets have a very short shelf life.
So Saturday morning saw many people in absolute astonishment that this thing happened around midnight a few days ago. "Summer homes," many muttered, assuming the small vacation rentals and family retreats nearby, curling around the harbor, were empty. Hoping, perhaps, that this explained things. Because this man ran for his life. He was chased by four strangers-- two of them from our own town. One from right here in Green Harbor, just a few blocks away.
There are racists everywhere. I've encountered religious and racial intolerance aimed at me... and have encountered it even more often with Ahmed in my life. When you love a man with richly beautiful features, a lovely accent, and a name not common on your block you find out quickly that what makes your heart skip a beat for good reasons can also cause others' hearts to stammer with fear for no rational reason. It makes you angry. It makes you nervous. It makes you wonder. It makes you think.
Mostly it makes you live in fear, too.
The most disturbing thing about this, for me, was the age of the attackers. The youngest was 17. They ran this guy down, and though no jury has yet met-- and they are guilty until proven innocent, witnesses are saying there was no reason outside of skin color. The owners of the restaurant have turned surveillance tapes over to the police. I'm relieved to see local law enforcement taking it very seriously.
I don't want it in my town. I don't want it on my street. And while I can't do much about the ignorance of others what I CAN do is lead by example and refuse to accept the plague of hate in my presence. I was sickened to read this story on a beautiful summer Saturday morning.
But I felt a huge wave of relief as my friends and neighbors, plucking the same newspaper from the stand, stood shoulder to shoulder with me at the pharmacy, outraged. And later at the deli, outraged. And again at Starbucks, outraged. I want us outraged. I want us rabidly angry. I want us to form a wall of human fury.
NOT IN MY TOWN!