Saturday, June 14, 2008

NOT IN MY TOWN

I live in a small village, part of an average sized rural New England town. Everyone knows everyone. We are territorial, private, and proud.

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!

12 comments:

  1. sigh. I wish it were less common. Unfortunately, living in the south, I see it quite a bit. It's better than it used to be, but no where near good enough.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's awful. And I hope this isn't taken wrong, but I hope there was some other reason other than the color of his skin. Not that any other reason will change the end result, but it'd better than racism. Maybe that's just a naive though. *shrug*

    I hope the man attacked will be okay.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That hurts my heart so much. I have dealt with, still do in my racist little town, more times than should be allowed.

    What about the man? Did he survive? Did they catch the ignorant pigs? I hope they go to prison and can experience what hate really feels like, from the receiving end.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Its painful to see that we, as a society, have not advanced as far as we like to hope.

    I am rabidly anti-discrimination. In any form. It often makes me the odd duck in my chosen profession, but I will not bend on this. I am so sad this happened to this man, but I am heartened to see that the community is outraged and the authorities are handling it quickly.

    Neith

    ReplyDelete
  5. There's no reason for it. My BFF is in an IR and there's no reason to treat either of them differently. They have a beautiful baby daughter who's a spunky little daddy's girl.

    It's a shame that men (or women) that young have that outlook. It was bred somewhere. We are the childre of our environments.

    For the record, and for what it's worth, I'm in an IR too. He's Hispanic. I'm White. It never mattered to me. It never will.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sigh. I wish I could be shocked by this. But I'm not.

    A lot of humans like to hurt other people, for ego reasons in my opinion. Any excuse will do and racism is one of the most common.

    It's going to be a long time before we remove this blight on our collective soul.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That is absolutely awful. Do you know whether he's OK?

    So sad.

    ReplyDelete
  8. SO awful. :( This breaks my heart...I'll be praying for the man who was attacked!!!

    This world is so awful sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
  9. That is awful and intolerable. My prayers to the young man and your town.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is just awful and so unacceptable. I hope the man is doing okay and the people who did this have been caught and arrested. You hate to see this kind of thing happen in your town or anywhere for that matter.

    This is just so beyond my understanding!

    ReplyDelete
  11. How horrible! And I don't think I'll ever understand how anyone could do that...even taking into account prejudice, bigotry, fear, hatred, too much alcohol, and the tendency of young men to seek out both violence and danger, it still boggles my mind....

    Cara

    ReplyDelete
  12. The victim (no name given) suffered severe bruising, several stab wounds, and a significant loss of blood, but his body is going to heal.

    His spirit probably won't for a long time, but thank goodness he did survive.

    The reporting on this locally has been slim. So far very little expansion of the facts has been coming out. I'm hoping that's our police force really doing theirt job.

    ReplyDelete