Tonight, after giving a lecture with Dr. Tomes on racial stereotyping and racism, I came home to an incident that I must document. We’ve lived in Philadelphia now for a little over a year and my wife and I have had a lot of great times as well as some horrendous struggles with adjusting to the culture, as well as our first year of marriage. As I sit here thinking about all of our trials and tribulations, it makes me kind of sad. However, we love eachother and we have hope. Plus, I know that we are good people.
Tonight, however, was different. My neighbor 2 doors down decided it was a good night for him to jump into a situation that didn’t involve him. I pulled up to my residence at around 8 p.m. As usual, the streets were filled with cars and there was virutally nowhere to park. I pulled up to an adjacent street and noticed that an old truck was backed into my wife’s Volvo. I immediately stopped my car in disbelief and confronted the driver. He denied hitting her car, even though his truck was literally touching her bumper. (I have photos).
So, he starts telling me that he’s going to call the cops because my wife was illegally parked to which I replied, “She’s legally parked. All I simply want is an apology (and for you to get your head out of denialville).” He proceeded to deny, deny, deny and I was further in disbelief than I’ve been in years. He immediately said, “So who do you think you are with your psychology plates (yep, PSYD is on my plates) and your badge (?)” to which I replied “huh?”. He also asked me if I had a bad day with my stocks (?). Again, “huh?”.
So, I moved my wife’s car to a safer area since the strange guy wouldn’t shut his car off and his fumes were literally marking up my wife’s car. I then returned to the scene only to see my previously mentioned racist neighbor standing there. He started to try and intimidate me and continued to harrass me with awful statements like “Don’t be scared, pussy.” and “I knew you were gay all along” followed by “just come up these steps and we’ll go”. Oh my, I haven’t been invited to a fight since high school, I thought. I then walked to my car to make sure they hadn’t destroyed it, then realized that I was being intimidated in my own hood. WTF? What on earth was happening here? Full moon? Debates got you thinking bad thoughts? I don’t know.
I returned to my house to try and sort things out and as I stepped out on my porch, I got more racial, anti-gay, anti-South Carolina slurs mixed in with threats and further attempts to try and tell me I was going to have my ass handed to me. Enough is enough, I thought. A (wo)man can only take so much. But, I did the right thing and called the police. 9-1-1. I think I carried through the same way that I ask my students at school to do if they are being harrassed or bullied.
So, it took the police about 15 minutes to show and, when they did, the old 4 runner truck was gone and a newer 4 runner was in it’s place. The police were parked the opposite way on the one-way street and I approached them to try and put the pieces to the story together for them. I asked them how I could get an order of protection against my neighbor and I told them I was sick of the harrassment and negative hostility he presented on a daily basis.
One of the cops was intolorant and tried to find a lot of holes in my story. He made me nervous, so I was glad when he went off to question my neighbor. However, I heard them talking and my neighbor was feeding him lie after lie. I’ve never stepped foot on his property, frankly, because he actually does scare me. But oddly and to my benefit, the other one took my story and as I handed him my information, he appeared understanding and truly wanting to help. He gave a phone number and the Philadelphia Private Criminal Complaint office address where I could attempt to file a restraining order against my neighbor.
The other cop came back and repeated some blatant lie that my screwed up neighbor had conjured up about me. The slander was thick, but I allowed it since everyone is entitled to their story. Then, I was upset, because I saw him lie about how I continually harrassed him. What? I’ve never said a word to him since I’ve moved in. Furthermore, I’ve never so much as laid an eye on him until I absolutely had to. Never touched his front stoop and never intend to.
The bottom line to this story is that I was a victim of HATE CRIME and, quite possibly, an ongoing scene that can only be stopped by ignoring him. The issue is that he is the very epitome of a person that I teach others to try and be tolerant and responsive to. He’s the type of person I try to teach students how to recognize, fight, or otherwise avoid.
I’m not sure how I feel about people right now. I have a sort of numb feeling about all of this. If my wife, my dogs, and I are to live next to this piece of work, I’m not sure how it will all pan out in the near or long future. I can’t stand for intolerance. I can’t live in fear. I don’t like to be intimidated and I certainly don’t want to be tolerated. I am human afterall. I am a person with feelings. I am a person who just got threatened with my life. In my own neighborhood. I’m currently sick of the ignorance that I see in front of me and asking what this is all telling me. Goodnight.