Friday, July 26, 2013

Neighborhood without the Watch

It is impossible not to hear a lot about the Trayvon Martin case.  The easy argument is one of racism.  That is, that the White Machine has once again perpetrated hate against the black man.  And okay, maybe some of that is true.  I don’t know what is in George Zimmerman’s heart.  But, I am all too familiar with the history that has brought is here, and the class lines that we can’t seem to transcend.  Maybe this is ultimately about race, I dunno.  But the thing I wish is that George Zimmerman had truly emphasized the word “Neighborhood,” when instead he chose the word “Watch.”

What I mean is that it ustabe that there was a neighborhood watch built into the neighborhood.  In Bewitched it was Gladys Kravitz, in my small town it was Kathy King, Lily Bainter, and Miz Jule.  These good women were the bane of the children who lived on my small island back home.  They knew EVERYTHING, and everybody.  When I failed algebra, I heard about it nine times before my daddy said a word.  Mr. Paul down at the Hardware store TOLD me that I would be working for him until I understood it.  He didn’t ask my mama if that was okay.  It just was what would happen.  In short, I knew I was both safe and watched by my community; my neighborhood.

If some stranger wandered over to our town, he would be greeted and asked who he was and whom he was visiting.  He would get a ride to that person’s house, especially if it were raining.  At the very least, a phone call to the person or family member would be made.  Especially true if the stranger were kin to one of us.  We made sure that both visitor and community member were safe.  We didn’t wave guns about, we waved concern and care in people’s faces.  We didn’t run after people shouting.

It is this last that makes me question George Zimmerman.  He was running after a kid in the rain, while being told by police officers not to. How exactly was he frightened for his life?  I don’t understand.  But I especially don’t understand his choices.  There were so many other things he could have done, most of them much more peaceful, and probably they would have come to his mind if he were truly connected to and participating in his neighborhood, not just watching it.