So I have lived in my neighborhood since 2012 when I closed on my house and other than the 2013 Fourth of July shooting, it has been very quiet over here. Needless to say the shooting that 4th of July was my Caucasian neighbor who “allegedly” was suffering from PTSD and had “allegedly” assaulted his wife while shooting at two police cars and an ambulance that caused the neighborhood to be on lock down for four hours while the SWAT team moved in. Other than that my neighborhood is pretty uneventful and there aren’t people moving in and out.
My neighbor across the street from me is a youth pastor and used to host Sunday Funday at his house. The kids would play football, basketball, and everything else for a few hours every Sunday of course crowding the streets but NO ONE ever complained. So can somebody please tell me why in the hell on Friday did my other neighbor, who lives behind the youth pastor, come to me about the crowd of teenage black boys playing basketball in my front yard?
See on Friday, my former student who has become like a daughter to me celebrated her 21st birthday this weekend, so while out getting her make-up done and her photo shoot, a few of my son’s friends were outside playing basketball with MY two BOYS. This has become the norm being that it’s summer time and the kids are out of school. We had a big water fight outside a few weeks ago and it was all in fun. So who has the problem and why?
As I’m getting out of my car with my Applebee’s leftovers I didn’t even notice the ghostly lady from across the street walking in my direction. Just as I closed my car door I heard a voice say, “Excuse me but do you know they are all outside in the street playing basketball?’
Now as a mother I damn near lost my mind and went straight into protective mode, but I calmly said, “Yes, I would rather my sons and their friends play in front of my house where they are safe versus being somewhere else.” I was trying to be respectful. My mom raised me to respect my elders. Then she said, “Well do you know that they are outside cursing?” I had to catch myself and not curse, so I said, “Ma’am have they been to your house bothering you or even in your yard bothering you?”
At this point I was trying to be diplomatic and again respectful even though I was at my OWN house standing in my garage. Poor little lady must have felt privileged because she went on to say, “Well I had to drive across the neighbors grass just to get home because they wouldn’t move.” In my mind I’m thinking, “they wouldn’t move”, but I looked over her shoulders and there were not tire marks.
“Ma’am again you are bothered by them, my boys, being in the streets playing ball where they are safe. I’m bothered by you being in my garage smoking a cigarette and I don’t smoke.” I refused to feel inferior and be told what my kids could not do. A bunch a hormonal teenage boys at that… This old lady looked at me and said, “Well the neighbors are complaining.” I said,”Well let them. I’m done with this conversation”, and walked in my house.
It’s sad in this climate and culture that we have to worry about how our children, especially our young black men and boys move about for fear of something happening to them. I want my children and their friends to feel like my house is safe and they are out of harms ways. But I be damned if I going to be told that a yard full of black boys is a problem for my neighbors. No one’s house has been broken into or vandalized. They aren’t outside blasting their music, and as far as being boys—I cannot control what they say in a heated game of basketball.
It made me think. Yes sure everyone was nosy and peeking outside when the neighbor shot up the police cars and there was yellow crime scene tape blocking off half of the cul-de-sac. Everyone politely blew horns to get the youth ministry kids out of the street. But then now you want to complain about where my black boys hangout and play…MY HOUSE.
If my boys can’t play and be safe in the comfort of their neighborhood and not in the streets, I ask, WHERE CAN LITTLE BLACK BOYS PLAY?