The space between ignorance and apathy. That describes my life in Hickory Hills. The conclusion came to me about 24 hours after Joan attacked me with her barrage of racial rants. Here was a neighbor, obviously pissed that Senator Barack Obama, an African-American, will become president of the United States, so it justified her rant. As I wrote earlier, I’m shocked that those who are closest to her never called her out on it. They send their kids to her. They have coffee with her. They cackle on the phone three times a day with her. C’mon, I’m not as dumb as I look. If walls could talk. I guess I’m naive. This is suburbia where its hard-working Americans wish to keep more of what they earn; send their children to good schools; and of course, be safe. But there’s that voice in me that says that these are code words.
Am I experiencing Suburban Guilt? Am I a hypocrite for living in this sanitized world while I display such concern for those less fortunate — while I stand by like Joan’s friends? I don’t consider myself better than Joan and company, but I know that I’m far more open-minded. How can someone who has raised kids and actively watches kids hold such ignorant opinions? I’m sure her defenders say that those subjects never come up, but what if they did? If so, then Joan is poisoning another generation. Oh, her defenders will say, “You’re making too much of this, Bobby.” No, I’m not. Ranting about Muslims to me is anti-Semitic. Taking it further and say, “Oh my, he’s black!” is racist. There is no room for interpretation.
Have Joan’s defenders become so insulated to think this way? I suppose this story is a good example of groupthink. They all want to be members in this ersatz club that they formed long before I moved here. Of course there are those on their street who moved in after me and were quickly accepted into their club so seniority doesn’t matter. What matters is that you must be a white, conservative Christian. It doesn’t matter where you came from. There are members from D.C., New York, Ohio, Texas and Utah. I grew up here in the ATL, but my parents Flo and Sidney are from Chicago. They moved here in the early seventies. Yes, I experienced racism and anti-Semitism. Maybe this is all a flashback. I grew up never saying calling anyone out on ignorance. But we’re adults here and as a society, we have grown, I think. We have a responsibility to call people out on this.
So, here I am between ignorance and apathy.