White Neighbor's Fears

I had landed a job in Atlanta and loved the vibe of the city. I was grateful that TP was able to change his orders from Ft. Ben Harrison to Ft. Gillam. Our oldest son Aaron was eight months old at the time.

After previewing a lovely two-story home on a quiet cul de sac, we put a contract on it. The seller accepted it. A couple of days later, our realtor called to inform us that a lady was organizing the community to buy the house from under us. She didn't like the idea Blacks were moving in.

Although mortgage lenders had scrutinized us in the past, I was shocked about this form of racism. I had heard about these stories from my parents. But surely this wasn't happening in 1982.

My Mom always made phone calls and previewed rental properties without my dad. She could pass for white. Similar to my Mom, I made the calls inquiring about buying homes as well. Not that I could pass for white, but they couldn't tell over the phone that I was black.

Sellers were always surprised when my husband and I showed up at their door.

Fortunately, the scheme fell through, and we purchased the home. Before you think that the neighbor was a southern racist, she was from Pennsylvania. Since that time, I've learned there are pockets of racism everywhere in our country.

After several months, I got to know my neighbor. She had mentioned that maybe TP could teach her son how to play basketball. And TP had to tell her that he wasn't a basketball player.

One day she invited me to a Christian women's luncheon if you can believe that. And I went. After the luncheon, she admitted that she was upset to learn blacks were moving in next door.

She was the organizer. But over time, she watched how TP cared about the yard. He had one of the prettiest lawns in the cul de sac. She watched him as a father as he cared for his son. In other words, she was saying you're like me.

I told her that I get it. I want good neighbors too and would be concerned if poor white trash moved in next to me. We are not monkey's we are human beings just like whites. And before you judge me for saying that, all of us are biased. As my daughter puts it, I was nice nasty––a jab back.

I told her that black people want the same as whites. We want good-paying jobs, lovely homes, safe neighborhoods, and communities to raise our families. The white neighbor who lived on the side of me was a beautiful soul. We visited often, and our children played together.

Systemic racism exists. Just because you haven't "seen" it or it hasn't happened to you doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It's not something long ago. It's happening now.

Please open your eyes, read, learn, and ask your black friends about their experiences. Allow them to share without minimizing their experiences by saying, "I'm not a racist."

Instead, when a black person shares their pain, the best response you can give is, "I'm sorry that happened to you." Like you would say to any other hurting friend.

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