Black Like Me

Illustration by Bob AulYou were the guy who didn't appreciate the lower right side of your car getting wet when I turned on the front-lawn sprinklers last weekend—even though your two right tires got a free wash. First you sauntered over to the car, hands on your hips, surveying the damage. After I turned off the sprinklers a few minutes later, you apparently told your kids to play basketball on my lawn. When the ball came close to smashing my window, I politely asked them to keep their game on the sidewalk. That's when you yelled out from two houses down that I didn't want your kids playing on my lawn because they were black. So I confronted you about your sad statement, at which point you explained that you knew I was a racist because I was watering my lawn during the day—and my only intention was to disrespect your car. Actually, Saturday afternoon happens to be the only time I have to water my indoor plants, and I use the sprinkler system to accomplish that task. My only regret is that in the heat of defending my lawn-watering schedule to you, I mentioned that my dad was black. It's true, but it's also irrelevant. When it comes to respect—whether self-respect or neighborly civility—race shouldn't even be an issue. Meanwhile, what kind of pathetic, tragic message are you passing to the next generation when you use your kids to spark a confrontation to teach them a bogus lesson about racism?

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