Thursday, 3 November 2016

Jim White: When we rob our children of their childhood by relegating them to atmospheres of fear and distrust nothing in the world gets better

So, last night Sadie was invited to Trick or Treat in the Boulevard neighborhood of Athens. It's an upwardly mobile enclave where a large percentage of the most successful professional artists and movers and shakers in town reside (i.e. Michael Stipe has a house there).
As you can see in the picture Sadie got all dressed up and seeing the work she put into her costume I realized that me fellowing her around in drab street clothes might not be much fun for her, so I dug into my closet and---lo and behold---found an actual Pinkerton Security Guard outfit that I bought at the flea market a long time ago. I put it on, I grabbed a big Maglite flashlight and a matching ball cap and looked very official as we headed out into the huge throng of kids and parents.
I looked so official that several times parents stopped me, asking, "Is that a costume or are you REALLY a security guard??" Staying in character I replied by flashing my light in their eyes and barking out some security guard jargon, like, "I'll ask the questions here. ID please." or "Move along, move along."
The kids enjoyed the bit of theater and all was well until right near the end of the night a pretty young girl aged ten or so and her family approached me. It was a bottleneck on the sidewalk and so she didn't notice me until we were right beside each other. When she saw me she jumped slightly, as if startled, then stopped in her tracks and asked if I was a real police man or if that was a costume.
So I did the ID thing, but instead of laughing like the other kids she looked scared, replying, "I don't have any ID sir." Her voice trembled slightly as she said it, and I could tell she was actually frightened, so, trying to think of a way to calm her fears, I said, "What do you have in the bag young lady?" As she showed me her knapsack full of candy, I noticed her hands were trembling, at which point I said, "That's all the ID you need. Happy Halloween!"
The girl still looked scared.
Confused? Did I mention that in this sea of white kids in this predominantly white neighborhood, this beautiful young human being was dark skinned? And apparently she was okay with the cavalcade of gruesome zombies and horror movie impersonators but was stone cold terrified at that possibility that she was standing face to face with a real cop and that subsequently bad things were about to happen to her and her family.
That's heartbreaking. And that little girl deserves better. When we rob our children of their childhood by relegating them to atmospheres of fear and distrust nothing in the world gets better. Nothing.

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