Monday, December 8, 2008

Curb Level Aspirations

Recently, I’ve had the misfortune of dealing with a young man in my neighborhood who doesn’t have any respect for boundaries or for other people. Without going into too much detail, the police have been called twice. I now am forced to walk my dog with a leash in one hand and a can of pepper spray in the other while constantly looking over my shoulder.

When the police asked me to press charges, after the second incident, I did. Several people applauded me for taking a stand but I also got several responses that were unexpected and disheartening. I “shouldn’t be so eager to put another young black man into the system,” they said, as they sympathetically attempted to argue his side. Basically, since I wasn’t raped or beaten, I should cut him some slack. I don’t agree.

People should be accountable for their actions. The fact that there was a second incident more egregious than the first after the police had been called once already said it all to me. He has shown absolutely no remorse. In fact, he seems to think he’s entitled to trespass on my property and violate my personal boundaries.

I am not without compassion, but compassion shouldn’t be expected, it should be earned. What’s sad is that so many people assume that this boy can’t do any better and that he deserves a second, and a third and a fourth chance. I wonder what it would take for them to side with me? A severe beating? A rape? A murder?

You’ve heard it a thousand times, but it is true. No one rises to low expectations. I expect more from my neighbor. I expect him to act with courtesy and respect. I expect him not to engage in inappropriate behavior. I expect others to stand by me and demand more from this young man.
As a community, we have to demand more from ourselves and from each other. Life is hard. In some cases, it’s downright tragic but none of that gives people carte blache to act like a fool. It is not okay to violate another person. It is not okay to help yourself to someone else’s property. If we want more for ourselves, if we want more from our families, if we want more from our communities, we have to demand it and accept nothing less.

Young black men (or any men) don’t have to go to jail. It is not inevitable – neither is a life of crime or a life colored by poverty and despair.It’s not easy but we can overcome. As Obama would say, “Yes, we can!”

I hope my ordeal with this young man is over. I hope he learns several lessons from all of this. I hope he learns to have respect for other people. I hope he learns that there are consequences for every action – good and bad. I hope both he and his parents take this as a wake-up call and see this as an opportunity to do and be better. I hope this is the last time his name is uttered by the police.

I hope he sets his sights higher than the gutter and higher than curb level.


MoAfrika said...

Firstly, Ms Beach, is it Kerb or Curb? I'm not sure but will check later. Congratulations on affirming your right to safety, privacy and security. I try to impress on my sisters that they should say "who, when or not". And as for the nonsense that YOU are putting another brother into the system - that cretin has gone and found his own way into the system and by the looks of things will probably stay there. I'm no angel and my dearest wife works hard at making a good man out of me; however I will never tolerate crude behaviour nor will I ever believe that there can be an excuse for it. It is actually very simple - you ask politely and who knows, it may be your lucky day. If not, well it just isn't, grow up, pick your bottom lip off the kerb(?) and move the hell on! The power and value of any request or any wish, lies in the possibility that it may be denied! When it is denied, don't be a brat, but if you must be, lie on your back, kick and scream - then consider how stupid you look! A community that seeks to condone conduct that you describe is no community at all! It is a collection of human beings with no care for themselves or the other. Incidents like the one you describe turn my stomach. Down here it is even worse because some idiots go as far as using my culture and my name to justify such crass conduct. I wish my daughters grow up to be like you, send the cretins to jail where they will hopefully be violated.

Karyn Beach said...

It's curb. It might be kerb in the UK but it's curb here in the States.

It really saddens me to see so many people jump to this young man's defense. Instead of trying to make me feel bad for defending myself, why not try to make him feel bad for violating me and breaking the law in the first place?

We have really turned things around here. The perpetrator is now the victim. The victim sadly doesn't have the right to be outraged or to defend themselves without becoming the 'bad guy'.

Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

You know how I feel about this idiot. I think he needs to fry. No one has the right to touch you without permission or violate your personal space. Ever. said...

Hello there!

I am so glad that you wrote about this!

I mentioned that saying "no one rises to low expectations" in a post that I presented a few weeks ago and it's just sooo true!

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa said...

Hey there!

I want to also mention that there was a discussion at my blog in which I mentioned that EVERY time we refuse to involve the police when there are predators among us, we are granting immunity to them and contributing to a more dangerous community for ALL black women.

We MUST make sure the police are involved.

We can not grant immunity any longer with our silence...or avoidance.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!