Where my sidewalk ends

chairsMoving to a new state, neighborhood/area filled with strangers is daunting. But, I feel like we moved here with a positive, friendly and trusting mindset…maybe a little bit too trusting.

I shared the background of this post on Facebook, so I’ll copy/paste it here, in order to make a long story short:

The other day, a group of about 8-10 teen/pre-teen girls walked by our home, on the sidewalk. I was outside, watering the flowers. “I like those chairs!!!” one of the older girls exclaimed enthusiastically, about our two orange porch chairs. “Well, thank you!” I responded, feeling very happily June Cleaverish with my hose and blooming lilies. Naive, I am…because this morning, guess what was missing from our porch? I hope they’re at least enjoying their NEW home.

What I didn’t share then, was that after finding out we had our chairs stolen, the feeling of our new, nice, suburban area with friendly people in it suddenly felt muddled, unsafe — and I even felt exposed and vulnerable just leaving my doorstep to walk Moxie. I also didn’t share that after the girl yelled to me that she liked our chairs, I did get a twinge of alarm in the back of my mind, like maybe I should be putting the chairs away at night, or something. Finally, I also didn’t share that the group of 8-10 girls ranging from approximately 13 years old to 4 years old, without adult supervision, and who were throwing expletives, including the N-word, around to each other, were black. I didn’t share this, because I didn’t think it was important.

Against my own advice to others about listening to your gut, I ignored mine. I found the girl on the sidewalk’s tone and smile/smirk suspicious, especially since her exchange with me followed her telling her friends that she “would slap that n***a” when she “saw his ass again.” But, I went back into thWhere-the-Sidewalk-Endse house and ignored the thought of putting the chairs away when we weren’t using them, because I felt society’s pounding fists (especially as of late) beating me with “Don’t racial profile, Trayvon Martin, Trayvon Martin, do not stereotype, you are a BAD PERSON if you do this.”

So, I pushed the gut feeling down sooo far, ignoring its swirling plea for attention and screams of “Her tone was weird, Amanda…err on the side of caution, come on!” until I talked myself into “She was just complimenting the chairs. Don’t be silly. What if they were ever passing by again and saw you putting the chairs away?! How would that make them feel? Bad, I bet. Besides, who would take two orange porch chairs, anyway? Gosh. No one, that’s who.”

WRONG.

The policewoman who came to talk with us confirmed that sure, my exchange was suspicious, and that it was most likely kids, bored with what to do with their summer time who took the chairs — and that there had been previous, similar thefts.

The more I thought about how I felt violated, taken for a fool, and just plain robbed — also how I ignored my own gut feeling, second-guessed myself and even beat myself up for something I wasn’t even doing, the angrier I got. So, basically — I gave up my own human, maybe even womanly instincts in order to give a group of gals a free pass just because society has made us all hyperaware to the color of people’s skin, and how not only should we never think badly of anyone with a different skin color from our own, we should put our heads down in shame and hand them a whip while we head to the corner. Because if we don’t, we’re clearly racist.

WRONG.

Next time I’ll trust myself more and take a stand against society’s subliminal judgements seeping into my mind. I’ll have to, because I won’t have a chair to sit on.

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6 thoughts on “Where my sidewalk ends

  1. Rotten people comes in all shapes and sizes. Give yourself a break. Assuming someone will steal because of the color of her skin isn’t cool. But being cautious regardless of a person’s skin color is OK. Necessary, sometimes.

    My point is, if you’re suspicious and cautious because something feels off, then a person’s skin color is irrelevant.

  2. I think you did everything right here. I think you would have felt the same way about the girls regardless of what they looked like, you have WAY more to say about the way they were acting and the things coming out of their mouths and that is telling.

    You trusted until you were given reason NOT to, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

  3. I think these type of things happen, no matter what inner voice comes about or what gut feeling we may have. There is always going to be people who violate us might be stealing chairs or a clipping flowers. Sometimes you just have to be more careful or creative with our posessions-we have to take chances and it does stink but one day that little or big thief will have something happen in return…

  4. Your outlook on life is refreshing. You are a positive “glass half full” type of person. I admire that. If more people acted like that, there would be less hatred in the world. Unfortunately, life doesnt work that way. My cynicism of society would have done exactly the opposite of what you did. I’m going to be that mean angry old man telling kids to get off my lawn. Perhaps I am a product of my (deteriorating) environment…

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