This post is not about plants, though there are some nice palm trees in the photos by MB Maher. I can tend to overshare sometimes (I got my surgical staples out today!), and this is such a time, so feel free to pass. And I feel like I’ve told this story here before too, and if so, pardon the repetition.
“What if it were your kid?” Through a series of unfortunate misunderstandings, one day it was my French-Irish kid’s turn to be terrified by police. Just one afternoon, and yet the toll a police officer’s gun to the head took on the emotional sturdiness of a happy-go-lucky adolescent boy was a long time in unwinding. In our very mixed neighborhood, a white kid coming home from school and climbing over our locked fence struck an out-of-state visitor across the street as suspicious. When the police responded to the call, it struck them as suspicious too. Surely he didn’t belong in this neighborhood and was up to no good. When he answered their door knocks, they hauled him out of his home and pulled a weapon on him on the back porch. He protested that he hadn’t broken in, that he lived here. They brought him back into the house to prove it with a photograph. Finally a photo was found in a bedroom, and the siege ended. Fortunately, that was our one-off encounter with the wrong side of the LBPD, but for us it blew wide open a window onto how dangerous assumptions can be about who belongs where and who doesn’t and how quickly things escalate. (Remember Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s arrest for “breaking into” his own home?) That African-American parents have to have the “talk” with their kids because over the course of their lives this will routinely happen to them, the institutionalized assumption that they’re up to no good — whether bird-watching, jogging, coming home with candy from the corner store — it’s unimaginably heartbreaking. To be told at a young age that being in the public square means different levels of risk for different skin colors can only be life-altering, confidence-destroying.
Mitch took these photos on June 2, 2020, in Hollywood, California.