My thoughts (Lynnette Pullen Bradford):
The following is a real post I put on our community Facebook page a few days ago:
“Today, my 17 year old son was walking home from school after getting off the bus and a “neighbor” stopped him while driving on Crescent Moon Lane and asked “Do you live here?” My son answered “Yes”. She stared for a bit and drove on into her driveway on Arbor Bay Lane.
This, in my opinion, is inappropriate and borders on harassment. He has the right to walk where he pleases, but especially HOME. We went over to her home, just now, to discuss the matter. I want my son to be able to walk home without having to validate his right to do so with anyone. Mind you, I was upset, but controlled and respectful. This “neighbor” answered the door, and, upon seeing my son, immediately (and without me stating my concern) became defensive saying: “All he had to do was tell me he lived here!!!” I said, “You have no right to ask him that.”
She insisted she did and began to rant and scream saying things like, “You people need to stop claiming everyone is after you!!!” and “Raise your son right!!!” I remained calm and collected; however, she continued to rant and yell at me. She said she suspected him of being a salesman because of his binder and book bag. A salesman…not a student.
I asked my son to step back out of harms way as she continued to escalate.
I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. She eventually yelled, “I don’t have to talk to you!” and slammed the door in my face. She then screamed through the door “How did you like that???” I answered (through the closed door) “Ma’am, don’t harass my son, anymore.” She screamed at me and said I was trespassing and threatened to call the police.
We left at that point. While I never mentioned race, that was clearly an issue for her. However, this isn’t the first time he’s been questioned about his presence in this neighborhood.
Neighbors, I humbly ask that if you happen to see a 6ft tall, thin, devastatingly handsome African American young man walking around the neighborhood, assume he is my son and help me keep him safe. Thank you!”
She did call the police and reported our family as “aggressive”. She said she feared retaliation. I could feel fear and anger shackling my spirit and corrupting my hope. I couldn’t help but think of Trayvon Martin, the young man killed by a racist neighbor while walking home from the store. Tried but not convicted. I cried and kissed my baby feeling both grateful and guilty that I could still hold my son, hear his heartbeat, feel his warm skin, listen to his rhythmic breathing while he slept, after an encounter like this when I know so many other mothers cannot.
Let us, as a people, pray for our children. Will you pray with me?
Prayer for the day: God, hear my prayer. As parents, you have blessed us with the ability to experience a fraction of the love you have for us in loving our children. Oh, how wondrous it is. But, our children are being attacked in this nation. They are being separated from their parents at the borders, shot in classrooms as they learn, abused and murdered as they simply walk down the street. I boldly ask that you intervene and protect them. Place a hedge of protection around each and every child at risk in this country, Lord. Light their paths as they travel through dark places. Cover and protect them in your Love and favor. Be a present help in times of grave trouble. Bring comfort and peace to those parents who grieve the loss of their child. These things I ask in the name of your Son, Christ Jesus. Amen.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.