A small, big, small thing

Dear President Biden,

There’s just so much. So, so much. And it’s pretty distressing/depressing knowing that what I’m personally aware of from the news and from simply existing is just the barest tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Do you sleep at night? At all?

I don’t know if it’s because there’s so much heaviness and because nearly all of it’s outside of my control, but today when dog-Buddy and I were circling back at the end of his morning constitutional, I noticed, for what feels like the first time, the “Crime Watch” sign posted in our neighbors’ nature strip. I must have gone by the damn thing a thousand times (easily – I checked – it’s been there the whole 22+ years we’ve lived here) but I SAW it for the first time today.

That sign has always just been part of the scenery, a given in our nearly all-White neighborhood such that I never actually saw it.

It makes me so sad to find this out about myself.

I read the thing today and underneath the huge “NEIGHBORHOOD CRIME WATCH” lettering it says:

We immediately report
activities to our Police Dept.

It’s been marked up with a bunch of graffiti over the years, but the message comes through loud and clear and it’s profoundly unwelcoming – to certain people. As I said in my email to the neighborhood historian when I reached out to see if she knew the origins of the sign “It is not welcoming for pedestrians who don’t happen to live here and it leads neighbors to think we can tell who is and is not suspicious, which is likely to negatively affect Black and Brown people disproportionately since White people are so conditioned to react to them fearfully/anxiously.”

I didn’t mention the “our Police Dept.” part but that’s shitty too – “our” implies it’s not “their” Police Dept., now doesn’t it? I can’t help but think the choice of “our” rather than “the” was not an accident.

The neighborhood historian and her husband agree with me that the sign should come down. I was going to approach the new neighbors whose nature strip the sign is planted in either way, but it was a bit of a boost to get that endorsement for my plan.

At first I thought that I’d just wait until I happened to see the new neighbors and talk with them then, but I got brave and actually went to their door. And they answered. And we had a conversation about it. And, they are totally fine with taking it out. And they actually agree that it’s sending the wrong messages.

If it’s not dumping rain, I’m hoping that tomorrow afternoon Laura and I can dig the sign out and fill the hole (somehow). Ooph – just realized that we also need to figure out what to do with damn sign. It may well need to go to the dump, but maybe the garbage people will take it for us. We’ll see.

May we all be safe to walk wherever we want to walk (or roll or ride….).
May we see what needs to be seen (and know that we’re likely late to the game once we do see).
May we commit to making our neighborhoods welcoming to everyone.
May we keep ourselves honest and not resort to unseeing.

Tracy Simpson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: