Friday, July 25, 2014

Neighborly discussions...

Okay, so we have a neighborhood bulletin board.  Some of the neighbors get a little carried away sometimes but then that's just my opinion.  I've removed the names as this is not about pointing fingers but rather to encourage a little compassion in the hood.

1st Neighbor:
There are 2 women walking down XXX ave towards YYY picking items out of the trash and recycle bins. Asian

[Author's sidebar comment: yes, that really rubbed me the wrong way but it required a little thought to understand why...]

2nd Neighbor posted:
We're relatively new to the neighborhood and are disturbed by the racially related posts on this site. "Black man on bicycle" "Asians in the trash" etc. In your attempt to look out for neighbors please pay attention to how your own fear/prejudices/stereotypes are driving your notifications of "danger."

My response:
When I hear posts about Asians or Blacks or Mexicans, etc., sometimes I wonder whether the poster would similarly freak out when I walk by with my dog (and yes, he is a very cute dog...). If someone really is committing a crime, fine, report every last detail. If someone is just innocently passing by, please leave them in peace. Of course, I realize there has been some crime and it is hard to figure out is what is the line between reasonable caution and undue paranoia... So I gave some thought about why some of the posts seem so offensive, even if the poster is just trying to help.

How about this...if someone really is acting suspicious, state why in detail and describe them in detail. Black man on bike sounds racist, if only because all you noticed or bothered to post was the color of their skin and the bike. That's a little offensive. Now, if you said, there is an African American/Irish red head/Asian/whatever, male/female, approximately 35 years of age, 5' 10", dressed in a black hoodie and cutoff jeans, with red sneakers that has circled my street three times in the last hour and is checking to see if windows are locked and ringing doorbells randomly, by all means, be my guest! If they're being suspicious, I want all the details including what behavior makes you believe that they are acting suspiciously (and hopefully it is not just the color of their skin..).

However, if they're just passing by or, heaven forbid, if they are so poor and hungry that they need to dig in trash cans for aluminum cans rather than beg at the corner to keep a shred of dignity, I'd just as soon not hear about it. Yes, some people would rather dig in YOUR TRASH rather than BEG. Is that so bad? Okay, it's a bit annoying...but no worse than the profuse beggars adorning seemingly every stop light (and I have yet to see an Asian on one of those street corners...although there's probably one somewhere...). And yes, I have been known to buy food for a beggar or two on occasion... But for the grace of God, that person begging or digging for cans could have been me...or YOU or any of us. Be kind. Don't judge. Help out your friends, family and neighbors.

Remember, the more of your neighbors that you know well and care about, particularly those that live close to you, and the more that you help watch out for them, their pets, their packages, their houses, etc., the less crime and the safer it will be. Remember, it may be your neighbor that comes to check and calls the ambulance when you really need it or your neighbor that douses the ember that blows in from a fire that might otherwise torch your house.

[So what do you think?  Did I get a little carried away?]

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