Saturday, July 01, 2006

Afraid of what we don't know

Those who don't know any better come into our neighborhood scared. They think we're dangerous. They think we will attack them with shiny knives. They are stupid people who are lost and got here by mistake.

But we aren't afraid. We know they guy with the crooked eye is Davey the Baby's brother, and the tall one next to him in the straw brim, that's Rosa's Eddie V., and the big one that looks like a dumb grown man, he's Fat Boy, though he's not fat anymore nor a boy.

All brown all around, we are safe. But watch us drive into a neighborhood of another color and our knees go shakity-shake and our car windows get rolled up tight and our eyes look straight. Yeah. that is how it goes and goes.

~Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street, p. 28

I can relate. People are scared of my neighborhood, too. I think once they come and visit me, they realize it's not so scary. I think. Who knows...maybe they still think it's scary.

But I'm not afraid.

I know that Gino, next door, is a deacon in the church. Roy and Lupe and their family, across the street, marched in the Immigration March not because they're illegal, but because they believe in rights for all people. Mr. and Mrs. Brown are an older couple that are very active in their church and do what they can to protect, make change in, and love their neighborhood. Mrs. Brown works at a healthcare place and Mr. Brown is a crossing guard for Richardson schools. Ray, J.J., and some other older men who I can never remember their names, love to stand outside, shoot the breeze and bar-b-que every chance they get. Miss Dorothy, across the street, gave me potted flowers when I first moved in to my house. Twin brought me mums from the nursery up the street when he found out the potted plants I had on my front porch had been stolen. Main and Tiffany are college students and are constantly talking to their friends in the neighborhood, encouraging them when they are discouraged, talking to them about college, and trying to help them to be on a path that is productive. Zabrina has "adopted" (without the paper work) a girl in the neighborhood and treats her just like her other two daughters because the girl's family isn't always around. Mr. Vidal is very well-read and teaches his children to read and learn about Mexican history and other stuff that the schools don't teach. Brenda has raised her grandson while his mom was in jail, along with taking care of her own mother, and now takes care of her daughter's other baby because her daughter is back in jail again. Chris has worked at Baylor faithfully for about 8 years or more, getting up to be there by 5:00 a.m.

I could go on and on. I just wish people knew the things that I know about my neighborhood. Then maybe they wouldn't be so scared of it.
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