Thursday, March 15, 2018

Dear ones-

I've been away on retreat and a dharma training that is over, at least for now. I am hoping to get invited back but I won't know until June.


Today is Thursday. It is bright and sunny and the dog is sighing at my feet. I've planted peas and spinach in the hopes that the weather won't be totally weird and refuse to nurture little sproutlets.

I have a Black Lives Matter sign in my living room window. I'm currently reading "So You Want to Talk About Race" by a local author, very smart and thoughtful book. I'm not saying any of this to pat myself on the back or be told I'm so woke or anything. I am saying that I am a serious student of both Buddhism and injustice in all it's forms.

And then this happens:

As I was waiting in the Burbank airport  on Monday(Hi Elizabeth!) for my plane back to oh-so-white Seattle, I got a frantic call from my daughter, who had arrived in Seattle earlier that day with her boyfriend. Eden is dating Darius, a lovely, nerdy Black man who works in IT and reads books about wine and speaks slowly because he has a slight stutter.

Apparently a neighbor called the cops because there was 'suspicious activity' at my house and a Black man who was probably a burglar was in my back yard. Four, count 'em, four squad cars, came to my house and thank gawd, Eden answered the door to four of Seattle's finest. They announced that they were investigating a burglary and they had body cameras and audio equipment. Eden lost her shit, of course. Actually, she remained calm and told them she was the daughter of the owner and the Black man was her boyfriend. They went away after neighbors came out to see what was going on. This was all in the middle of the day. Darius had taken a walk (!) and someone decided he was an unknown stranger and of course, he was walking while Black.

My first thought was to leave the country and go somewhere where this doesn't happen. I believe I muttered, "Fuck this fucking racist country".  But obviously I need to stay here and continue the good fight.

I called neighbors to see if anyone called in a 911 call. Nope, no luck. Today I went to the nearest cop shop and spoke to the rather defensive desk cop about the situation and what to do. She couldn't give me the source of the call but she gave me the 'community relations' guy to call. I did, got his VM. zI thought about the local news stations...

I have white  friends and I have friends of color. I do not want my friends of color to be harassed when they come to my house. I don't want anyone who is non-white, female, queer, disabled to be denied their human rights. Period. At all.

My next step is to draft a letter for my neighborhood to tell the story and give them my name and phone number. Call me, don't call the cops. Calling the cops is what gets folks killed. I'll leave letters  in mailboxes.

I've had all kinds of folks come here when I'm not here, to stay here, to use the hot tub, etc. No white person has ever been harassed 'walking around in my back yard".

Any thoughts, dear reader? I won't let it go. Can't.


Portia said...

Couldn't or wouldn't? You could try a freedom of information request. Perhaps a local journalist could help.

Sabine said...

Horrible, horrible, horrible.

But reaching out to your neighbours could help, ignorance breeds fear breeds hate, maybe you can spread a little love and understanding. I hope so.

Ms. Moon said...

I have often thought that the amount of racism displayed in Northern versus Southern states has a lot to do with how many people of color live in them.
I can't imagine this happening in Lloyd. I'm not saying it could not happen, but there are people of all colors who live here within the community. I'm also not saying that there is not racism in Lloyd. There is. But. We live and co-exist together.
Oh god. Anyway. All of it makes me ill. Why still? Why?

My life so far said...


And no, don't let it go.

beth coyote said...

Thanks all.

am said...

After reading your post and strongly supporting your decision to write a letter to your neighbors, I took a 2-hour walk along a city trail and through a series of Bellingham neighborhoods and thought long and hard about white privilege.

Compared to oh-so-white Seattle, Bellingham is oh-so-so-so white. Whenever I visit Seattle, which is not often, I notice a dramatic difference in the mixture of people. There is also an equally noticeable tendency toward no diversity at all in the mixture of people living outside of Bellingham in the rest of Whatcom County, with the exception of the approximately 9,000 people who live in the Lummi Nation and on the Nooksack Reservation as well as migrant farm workers. Compared to most of Whatcom County, Bellingham has a diverse mix of people! There is strong support for our current president in the areas of Whatcom County outside of Bellingham. The majority in Bellingham did not vote for him.

In the condominium complex where I live, there was a Black man married to a Caucasian woman, both in their 50s. He worked flexible hours for a medical supply company and came home from work for lunch and breaks. Some years ago, someone who lives in this complex called the police to inform them of what they imagined to be the activities of a drug dealer. At the next condo association meeting, with great dignity, he related his experience and his outrage. He woke up the Caucasian people, including me, who are the majority in this complex as in all of Bellingham.

These stories matter and need to be told for as long as it takes for change to come. Word of mouth. Person to person. It takes so long. Apparently lifetimes.

beth coyote said...

Thanks, AM-this is the way things change. We white folks MUST step outside our comfort zones and wake up to the suffering all around us. We must read, write, and engage with discomfort.

Who are our ancestors? Where are we from? What does oppression look like and where did it start?

We must be the change we wish to see.


Elizabeth said...

I think it's changing, Beth. I have to believe so. As you know, my boyfriend (2 years!!!!) is black, and it's been an incredible experience and beyond humbling to truly get to know WHAT'S GOING ON in this country in an intimate way. When C leaves in the morning, I follow him outside -- he generally leaves before sunrise because he likes to get to these nature spots for photography super early -- anyway, I walk out side with him not to say good-bye but to make sure that no one messes with him. Honestly! That I feel safer in my very urban, integrated neighborhood in Los Angeles as a middle-aged frau than my black middle-aged boyfriend is outrageous.

37paddington said...

I’m just seeing this two months later. It makes me feel physically ill to think about what could have happened to your daughter’s boyfriend. This world. Did you ever find the neighbor who called?