So I am going to risk a rant here on Greenville racism.
Greenville is actually a very well integrated, multicultural city. We have Germans, Russians, Sufi, Saudis, Hindu, Hispanics, Latinos, French, and more due to the various international and national companies with home bases here.
When my partner and I moved here we were both favorably impressed by the levels of integration and mixed racial couples we saw. Most stores and shops also seemed integrated, and we found the general racial atmosphere congenial.
And then I had a rather odd day on Black Friday.
I met a scrawny young man (12-13?) of African American descent in third tier hand-me-downs hunting squirrels as table meat in my front yard.
This half sized “terror” was armed with a high powered pellet gun, a plastic bag, and orders not to come home without at least five squirrels.
After offering him a lecture in gun safety, id est, “Don’t aim that at my house”, “don’t aim that at me”, “for shit sake point that thing at the ground, okay?”; and asking him to stay out of my yard I then gave him a bag of leftovers and canned goods and told him to go home.
A little after that a police car showed up – no doubt called by a neighbor far more affluent than this poor dude – but they failed to find the “dangerous, armed, black man” a task I declined to help them with and eventually they too moved along.
My first issue is actually a rather more human and primal one, having absolutely zip to do with race.
What am I to make of a malnourished teen of any color hunting trash meat in an affluent city with a toy gun on the biggest day of the shopping year and a day after I ate myself silly?
Obvious questions arise.
Things having to do with his parents, his life, his school/social worker if he has one, his community, our completely confused country.
But I was too tired for big picture issues that day.
And really what more can I do?
So I stuck to rule one, “First Do No Harm” and I hope his parents and he ate fairly well tonight.
And then came the followup in the last few days.
Things that made me really rethink the city I live in.
I still love it here; still find in mostly open and friendly to people of all types, stereotypes, genders and colors, but this incident really did make me look a bit deeper.
Because of Squirrel Boy.
You see, my partner and I both belong to an online neighborhood watch group here in Greenville, and my partner posted this to the site…
We have a young man in our neighborhood killing squirrels with a high powered pellet gun. After speaking with him we got the impression he was hunting them for meat so we simply asked him not to enter our yards as we have cats we love and advised him that we have an autistic roommate (Kanners) -and my partner is also on the spectrum. He seemed to understand that we did not mean to harm him and promised to be careful, but I would like to let others know he exists. His barrel discipline is not great either so if you approach him be careful.
He posted this and our location on the site in the hopes – quoting him here, that “no one would shoot him cause he’s black and has a gun”. (He is from New York and thus is a bit more cynical than I am, or rather was, keep reading.)
In actuality this was not too misguided an idea as the kid was trespassing and he did appear to be “armed”. The leap to “dangerous” is not too far fetched.
But I was absolutely stunned by the answers on the forum. Several people suggested this is what we got for mingling with the “coloreds”. One woman offered to help us find a home in a “whiter neighborhood” those precise words, no euphemisms, although there were several of those as well.
About 90% of the posts suggested we call the cops immediately, a few offered to do it for us.
I do have to offer the caveat here that we live on a border line. Two streets up, there are all the white McMansions and boutique shops, two streets down is the high crime district of White Horse Road, and most of the nastier comments did come from the privileged neighbors, but even so…
And now this crap.
When I logged on this morning, I found that one neighbor had gone so far as to send the kid’s description – a cold, label laden dehumanizing version of it anyway – to the local PD.
“Help please. Black juvenile with a gun, early teens, wearing ragged clothes and with a “afro” has been seen climbing fences and trespassing across private property, in Prosperity area. He is killing small animals and possibly pets. If you see him please do something about this threat to our safety and community.”
The comments on this one ranged from if “I see him I’ll call the police” to “He better not cross my yard, I shoot back.”
Gotta love the holiday spirit.
I have no solution to this one, I am just reporting it. I wish I could do more, but have no idea what more might entail.
So tonight I am simply going to once again wish this young man well. I hope he is safe, fed, and warm tonight.
As all of us have a right to be regardless of or skin color, sexual preference, genitals, religion, or politics.
Good night, little bro.