The following is by Writers in the Grove leader, Mary Jane Nordgren, inspired by Prompt: I Fit the Description.
Quiet. Shaking, but not challenging, not running – just standing and taking it. But shaken, and it could have been any one of us stopped and questioned by the police.
Unless we are known, and respected, our words are not accepted as true. We are vulnerable by virtue of decisions we made while having no way of knowing they might matter. Accused because of what we chose to wear to work that morning.
I chose a brown knit shirt today, not knowing that a gray-haired lady in a brown knit shirt hit a child this morning with her car and drove away without stopping. Could I have stood quietly allowing suspicion to surround me? Could I have waited in silence for ten minutes, forty-five minutes as patrol cars hemmed me in and others circled the block again and again? Could I have held without arguing or crying or answering in anger while the only person in support was a woman far down the block who did not know me, but at least appeared concerned?
I am frightened of suspicion. It disintegrates all trust. What is safe? Where is safety? How can we develop trust in a world of “them?” In a world where I am a grayed-haired lady in a brown knit shirt? Can I count on that crime always to have been committed in Maryland and not Oregon where I live? How do we build community that shelters each of us, gives each of us credence despite our unwitting choices? How can I help?
Simply because I am one of the majority, I must remember that fear emasculates belief in self-worth, in security. I dare not sigh in relief – it may be me, next time.
The prompt this week was inspired by the blog post by Steve Locke called “I fit the description….” The photograph taken by the author features him wearing a knit cap, sunglasses, hoody covered by a jacket, slacks, fashion tennis shoes, and a Boston College faculty identity card on a lanyard, which the article describes in more depth.
This is what I wore to work today.
On my way to get a burrito before work, I was detained by the police.
I noticed the police car in the public lot behind Centre Street. As I was walking away from my car, the cruiser followed me. I walked down Centre Street and was about to cross over to the burrito place and the officer got out of the car.
“Hey my man,” he said.
He unsnapped the holster of his gun.
I took my hands out of my pockets.
“Yes?” I said.
“Where you coming from?”
How’d you get here?”
He was next to me now. Two other police cars pulled up. I was standing in from of the bank across the street from the burrito place. I was going to get lunch before I taught my 1:30 class. There were cops all around me.
I said nothing. I looked at the officer who addressed me. He was white, stocky, bearded.
“You weren’t over there, were you?” He pointed down Centre Street toward Hyde Square.
“No. I came from Dedham.”
“What’s your address?”
I told him.
“We had someone matching your description just try to break into a woman’s house.”
Inspired by the post, the Monday morning workshop group wrote on the subject of prejudice, false accusations, assumptions, and profiling.
The following was written by Writers in the Grove member, Bev Walker.
His friend said kindly, “Why don’t you take a vacation, some place quiet.”
So he did. He went hunting. A walk in the woods would be just the place.
He was going along when all of a sudden a giant jumped out in front of him.
The hunter quickly bellowed like a mating alligator, a terrible sound.
The sound scared the giant so bad he flew up into the nearest tree.
There, sitting on a limb sat a real live dinosaur eating a kumquat.
The giant scared the dinosaur so bad he dropped his kumquat.
It hit the hunter on the head knocking him out cold.
The giant jumped down from the tree, grabbed the kumquat for his breakfast and ran away.
Just as the hunter was coming around, the dinosaur jumped down from the tree,
grabbed the hunters red hat, (his ears were cold), and took off after his kumquat.
The terrified hunter immediately called a policeman
reporting there was a giant running loose in the woods
who could turn himself into a dinosaur! He’d seen it himself!
They could spot him because this dinosaur was wearing a red hat!
Policeman kindly said, “Why don’t you take a vacation friend, some place quiet.”