As an everyday white woman, living in the suburbs, I can’t ever claim to know the treatment of those protesting, as they grew up, and now try to survive. I have however, visited the situation up close and personal, and will never forget the experience.
In 2014, my best friend asked if I would consider renting a room to a family friend, who worked in the government, and was going to be in Denver for a temporary position. Having the space, and trusting her as I do, there was no issue, and for the better part of a year, this young man lived with me, shared meals, I did his laundry, he made me laugh, and I helped him when I could with graphics and designs for a website he was involved with. I also learned his New York slang, and some secret government gossip, which I am sure he made up for me, but regardless, he was a delight.
As with all young men, he loved my baking, and put on more weight than planned, and when his son was born, his wife and baby joined him here for a week. It was nice having family here again. He was also very fit, being in the guard, and ran for miles every day in the neighborhood, sporting Nike’s and a bright white tank top. The neighbors peeked out their windows to watch, and when his sleek, new black expedition was delivered by flatbed truck to my driveway, they must have figured something was going on, and a few looked a little longer. This young man will always have a place in my heart, and I was sad when he returned to the DC area.
However, before he left, on one of his nightly runs, he came back home, and was grinning like a little boy. He told me that one of the ladies up the street he had spoken to many times, invited him to a BBQ party. I wasn’t interested in going, but he headed off to the liquor store, bought several 12 packs of beer, and left later that night. I was shocked when he came back within the hour, and without a word, he went upstairs to his room.
I found out later that week, that when he showed up, everyone just stared at him, and he was made to feel very uncomfortable, even though he had been invited. The woman who lived there didn’t speak to him, and in case you haven’t guessed it, he was the only black man in that festive backyard get together. He left the beer and came back, later changing the route of his run.
Remembering as a nerdy kid who never was chosen in Gym class, and often mocked, I realized how insignificant that had been, and my heart hurt. Here was a young man I would have been proud to have in my family. He was financially sound, a husband and father, living out of state to better his family, and employed with the very government those people depended upon, yet he wasn’t good enough. I can tell you it makes me sick today, and I think of it, every time I pass that corner house.
We are in this life together for a reason, and we all die in the end. However, before such time, we need one another, to make it work.