have lived with my family in a white suburban ghetto since 1993. I
regret that I bought into the moving on up suburbia lifestyle myth.
But enough about that.
last Tuesday afternoon my son’s home care team showed up at our
house to pick him up for an afternoon outing. My son Manny is
twenty-four years old, deaf/autistic, and has lived with my husband
and I ever since we removed him from a group home due to abuse and
neglect. That was October 2016.
is extremely hard to get adult services for the differently abled
anywhere in this country but much more difficult in a small state
like Delaware. After much advocacy, we had finally successfully
wrestled home care services from the state. Two adult male workers,
who are also black, were hired to take Manny on outings such as
swimming, bowling, Planet Fitness, or just for a casual ride five
days a week from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
there was confusion about the start date. Consequently, when the men
showed up last Tuesday to pick up Manny, we were already out. The
driver decided to park across the street on the side of a house which
is diagonal to ours so that he could be under the tree and out from
under the scorching summer sun. He also had a clear view of the house
so that he could see when we arrived back home.
team had been waiting for about twenty minutes when they noticed a
police car pull up behind them. A second police car parked behind the
first. A neighbor had called the cops!
an officer approached, the driver rolled down the car window and
pleasantly greeted him. The officer’s return greeting was
pleasant enough. The officer immediately began to interrogate the
driver. “What are you doing in this neighborhood? What business
do you have on this corner? Do you have your license, registration
and proof of employment?”
latter request was because the driver identified himself and his
colleague as home healthcare contractors.
two men sat for some moments while the officer returned to his police
vehicle to check the car plates and IDs the men had handed over. The
younger man in the passenger seat was nervous. He recently passed a
criminal background check required for the job, but still. The driver
sensed the uneasiness of his colleague and disclosed that he was a
certified lawyer but found working with special needs people much
more satisfying. “Relax, I know our rights,” he said
confidently. After a background check and a few more questions, the
officer handed back the men’s IDs, got into his vehicle and
drove away with the second police car trailing behind.
men quickly put the incident behind them. The driver only mentioned
it this afternoon in a casual “by the way” when he picked
up Manny. Of course, I was livid. Once he drove away with my son, I
proceeded to knock on one neighbor’s door after the other. When
they answered I asked them if they had witnessed the police incident
last week. They had. “Were you the one who called the cops,”
I asked directly. They each responded that they had not. But they had
a clue who did.
is a very mean, middle-aged woman who lives at the house where the
men had parked on the side street. She is so mean that when my
husband and I and a few neighbors helped her ailing parents a few
years ago by cleaning up the leaves from their oversized front lawn,
rather than thank us, this woman told us each to “Go to Hell!”
neighbors I spoke with about the police incident stated that she is
always calling the cops on someone. I was not aware of that. I went
to the woman’s house, but her car was not in the driveway.
Though the evidence strongly points to her, I will reserve judgment
until I can speak with her and hear her own up to it with my own
ears. Needless to say I still gave each neighbor an ear full of a
history lesson on American racism and how calling the cops on black
people can get us killed.
the two men were parked at what one neighbor claims is an active drug
corner. “But I never see black people doing this, she stated,
“They are always white.” I have never seen this activity
myself. Unlike in the hood, suburbia’s drug culture is
underground and barely visible, though drugs are everywhere. The
neighbor stated that what often happens is that a car and a person on
foot appear simultaneously, the person on foot exchanges something
with the person in the car, and then like magic, poof, they each
happens several times a day,” she continued, “and so fast
that if you blink you miss it.” She claimed that she and a few
other neighbors have called the police about the drug dealing taking
place on that corner but the police always say. “We don’t
have time to send someone out there.”
Newark’s finest made the time to send two police cars to that
corner when one of my neighbors called to report that there were two
black men sitting in a car. They were not doing or dealing drugs.
They were just parked, sitting, waiting under the safety of a maple
tree that shielded them from the high afternoon heat. Selah.
This commentary was originally published by LAProgressive.com