Every neighborhood has an unpleasant neighbor. Ours had loud parties and we had to report them before they finally simmered down. They continued on but with less noise. Through the glow of our iphones my sisters and I would awaken in the night to strange sounds. We had two huge windows that gave a good view of the street. There, to our left was our neighbor’s house, lights on and cars stopping by. We would peek through the blinds to see young adults whispering things though car windows and windy curls of smoke from a gathering of them on the front lawn. As I got older I wondered if they were selling something because it looked like they were negotiating. When I was in middle school the neighborhood become sedate and peaceful. It wasn’t until a few years passed that I realized he wasn’t living there anymore.
“Oh, you didn’t hear?” Said my dad with his coffee and his daily Newspaper. “Yeah, he’s in prison right now.”
I was so confused. My dad always told me to avoid him and I thought it was because of the late night parting and the fact that he was boy. My dad told me to avoid boys like the plague. He seemed nice enough. One time when I was chasing the ice cream truck, he stopped it for me and bought me a SpongeBob shaped one. In my eyes that was enough to render him a good person. When I asked him why, he just brushed his hand, “Just drug charges, don’t worry about other people’s business.”
Apparently he was well known in the neighborhood. Everyone knew he was up to no good. Everyone knew he was selling drugs, and some of my friends said they heard he was pimp too. By the time he came back he was in his late 20s, and I was already out of High School. Everything was ok in the beginning, but then he began having a few parties again.
One night Angie (my little sister) woke me up excited about something. In a daze, she and Amy led me to our neighborhood spying window. It looked blurry from all the flashing red lights. “The hell??” The police and an ambulance was at the house.
The next day a local reporter came to the our house and my mother gave her first interview. My sisters told me all about it when I got home. We were all jumping about my mom being on TV. When it was up we looked it up on their website. Our neighbor had been run over by a car at night, and his legs were paralyzed. I was stunned by the report. The local News had interviewed so many people on our block, but the segment only had one person’s interview included, his best friend. I realized that they did this on purpose. Everyone else would have mentioned at some point his history. But if they included his criminal record, or neighborhood disturbances, the viewers would be more opt to not sympathize with him. Instead the whole report made him look like the definition of an ideal citizen.
This happened this year. I remembered how 17 year old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. I just remember watching that News coverage about our neighbor and thinking about how Trayvon Martin’s death was reported. Even today, if you were to look up Trayvon Martin’s name you would find publications and News outlets that tried to smear a 17 year old unarmed boy who was shot to death. Who purposely tried to justify his death. I was stunned at the News report of my neighbor, because they respected him enough to not air out his dirty laundry. They attempted to paint a favorable picture of him so they wouldn’t make a terrible situation worse. For many people of color, the same respect is not given.
I don’t believe that black lives matter more than other lives, but some people think that the death of black lives is justifiable.