I never thought I’d see a time again when our country was so divided. This division we are seeing is reminiscent of the 60s when racism was out loud, dogs were sic’d on black people, and a whole lot of other things. For me I don’t know who is against me or who is for me when it comes to other races. I want to believe that most people are inherently good, but assuming can get me in an uncomfortable situation or worse. This shouldn’t be happening in 2017! The way we treat each other nowadays reminds me of the Civil Rights Era. Black people not knowing if white people are ‘friendly’s’ or the enemy; white people feeling the same way. Racism is so ugly; it divides, splits, and divides again creating an atmosphere of fear, and mistrust.
All the protesting and acidic verbiage about black people, about white people, reminds me of when I was five years old. One day I was sitting on our back porch in Delray. Delray is a small community located in Southwest Detroit. Delray had the feel of a small town where everyone knew your family and family sometimes lived as close as a walk to the corner. During the 60s in Delray there were blacks and whites. For the most part I didn’t see white people come visit us except my Uncle Richie’s high school friend. They were so close they even took a picture together. Now I don’t know how his parents felt about Uncle Richie, but Jimmy was lovingly accepted in our home. I can’t recall having any white friends, and it wasn’t an issue with me either. Going to school with blacks and whites, they were just other kids to play with on the playground.
I remember one day while sitting on our back porch playing with my dolls, I could hear our neighbor calling her dogs to eat. This neighbor seemed like a mean lady to a child’s eyes. She never spoke to my mom or my grandparents. There were times when I heard my family members talk about her. They would say she didn’t like black people and one of the reason she had mean dogs was so she could sic those dogs on any black person who came on her property. The name my grandparents called our neighbor was Butchee. I never saw her up close, Butchee had a gray privacy fence I thought kept those vicious sounding dogs contained. Part of that was true, but the real truth was Butchee didn’t like Black people. Butchee was racist.
That word ‘racist’ was too adult for my 5 year old mind. All I understood at the time was that Butchee was mean and her dogs were always growling or barking whenever we were in our own backyard.
One day Butchee was preparing to feed her dogs. She fed them raw meat. I was on the back porch playing with my dolls and heard a loud scream. It sounded like it came from next door, in Butchee’s yard. After that scream I would hear several more and what sounded like angry dogs attacking someone. I ran to the privacy fence and looked in between the slats, I saw her two bull dogs biting Butchee. One dog was biting her leg, the other had his teeth in her side. With so much fear in my soul, I ran to my grandmother speaking frantically while trying to pull my grandmother to the back porch. My granny ran back into the house and called the police (9-1-1 wasn’t created yet!) By the time the police and ambulance arrived, I had been told to go inside the house and stay. My granny and other family members thought they were protecting me from witnessing such a tragedy. They had no idea I had peeped through the fence and saw the dogs jostling for a piece of Butchee. That visual has remained in my memory for 51 years. I can’t un-see what I saw that cloudy day.
I don’t know why Butchee didn’t like black people, we weren’t bad people. We kept our home up, didn’t break laws, worked everyday, we did what adults were supposed to do. But something inside of Butchee wouldn’t allow her to like us. I wish I could understand why people hate the things that make us different. Me being black and you being white, Cubano, Latino, etc., what’s the difference? It’s like having different spices in the gumbo. Those spices give the gumbo its flavor, its nuance. For those that don’t like black people and other minorities, you need to understand something, we’re not going anywhere and you’d better learn to live with us. Otherwise your hatred might cause some physical malady. Negative stress is bad for you, so just drop the drama and let’s move on. Taking this country back 50-100 years isn’t beneficial to anyone. There are more important things to focus on. Have you noticed ISIS or any of the other terrorist groups aren’t trying to destroy us? No, they’re watching us destroy ourselves.