athornton: Angry.  Drunken.  BOFH. (Default)
[personal profile] athornton
Some thoughts on race and privilege in the US.
I had a strange experience last night.
To set the stage: my spouse, Amy, was supposed to teach a dog class. I had received an urgent call to get my ass down the street to the bus stop, about half a mile away, in the Smart Car, so I could give that to Amy, because the left rear tire on the van (which Amy had been driving) had gone flat.
So I went down there, turned over the car, and called AAA while getting back to my house. I got the dogs inside, met the driver, and went down there while he chiselled the rusted-on spare from the underside of the van where it had been peacefully spending the last decade, determined that it would sort-of hold air, and put it on, whereupon I drove the little distance back home.
It was there that I determined that our newish Great Dane foster, Jamaica, had left a half-deflated-soccer-ball-sized dump on the living room floor. He's a sweet dog, but very very stubborn and, charitably, not bright. We'd spent nearly an hour outside with him immediately before Amy left, during which he peed but adamantly denied he had to poop. Then I left him unsupervised for less than half an hour, and Turdmageddon.
So anyway. I clean up this massive shit-pile, and take the bag of crap and paper towels out to the trash can at the side of my house. It's now like 9:15, and mostly dark: there's still some gray in the sky, and you can see silhouettes but not much else. That's the east side of the house, and there are stairs that go up along it to the back yard. I have several pots there containing hops and morning glories, and so I decided to water them, as although we have been getting a lot of rain, the rain comes in from the west, and so the east side of the house doesn't actually get rain in the usual case.

So I've gone up the stairs and back with a hose with a sprinkler head on the end, and I'm standing at the end of the stairs when I hear a whole bunch of barking from the front door. Now, I am aware I've been bad and not closed the front door, but just the screen door, because, well, I had my hands full of a bag of dog shit. So it's entirely normal that the dogs crowd the door and bay madly if they see, well, anything the least bit unusual. I think to myself, "I'd better hurry up and get back in before someone complains."
And that's when I see there's a guy walking quickly up the driveway towards me. I can only see the shape, but I think it's a black guy, maybe in his 30s? Not shaped like a kid, anyway. I'm pretty dazed from hiking back to the car and the excitement and unpleasantness of dealing with the dog shit, and I'm taking a while to form the thought, "I guess I should ask him what he wants or if I can help him."
While I'm standing there half dazed, he suddenly darts left and breaks into a dead run into the little gully between my house and the house on the street behind me, and disappears into the bushes. "What the hell?" I think, turn off the hose, and go inside.
It takes me a couple hours to realize what happened from his perspective. He's in the cul-de-sac, and suddenly there are a bunch of ferocious dogs barking at him from behind a flimsy screen door. He's trying to walk away quickly, and suddenly there's a silhouette of a white dude, holding what very easily could be a gun, in front of him, who evidently came out of the same house that the ferocious dogs are in.

So I probably caused someone to need to change his pants last night.
Now, I don't know who this guy was, or what he was doing in my cul-de-sac. If I were of a suspicious turn of mind, I might suspect he was casing houses to see if any looked worth robbing. If that is what he was doing then I think he probably won't be back any time soon. On the other hand, it very much could have been someone just cutting through, on foot, to get to wherever he was going more quickly. Or just someone out for a walk who got a little scared by several big dogs that did not appear well-restrained, and then a lot scared by what looked like a Missouri cracker with a gun.

But that's the thing: *I* never felt scared, or threatened. And that is all down to white privilege. Even if it had been a robber, what, he'd've gotten the forty bucks in my pocket, and could have taken a shitty minivan with a Thoroughly Corroded -3 Continental Spare Tire. (Seriously, the spare on this thing would have been perfect for pudding farming and not much else, and if you don't play _Nethack_ this sentence won't make any sense.)
But for a black man, trespassing on someone else's driveway, and suddenly seeing what appeared to be a white homeowner with a gun? No wonder it was terrifying.

 
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athornton: Angry.  Drunken.  BOFH. (Default)
athornton

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