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Living My Parents' Jim Crow in South Beach, San Francisco, a weekly chronicle detailing life in this locale.

According to a PBS News Hour segment featuring visually impaired Professor Georgia Kleege of UC Berkeley, people with disabilities feel the eyes of everyone riveted on them as they move in public.  Even the visually impaired have an uncanny ability to feel the gaze of thousands of eyes singling them out. Likewise, people of color feel stigmatized as we travel throughout the social order, as if violating the unspoken rule of no black faces in white spaces. The sudden presence of police enforcing this rule confirms black folks’ suspicions.

This common white/black dance unfolded as usual last Saturday in my South Beach neighborhood choreographed by social construct, a construct my Southern parents danced until their move to California. Dance rule breakers who violate this covenant must be punished, even if it’s an eight-year old child. In a departure from the play, however, social media helped write police out of the script by a well-crafted Saturday, June 23 Instagram Post dubbing the aggressor "Permit Patty."

In short, my neighbors had a dust up and police were averted from the scene; however, the legacy left in the cloud will linger forever.  Were there chances in this exchange between community members to alter the black/white dance and dismantle racism entirely or just to punish the offender? Did public outcry set in motion a possibility for healing on both sides so as not to allow for a repeat event?

If we’re not making systemic change to oppression which prevents it from operating in society, if we’re not calling out structural racism and calling in people not yet woke to defeat evil systems with us, "we are of all people most miserable."  We simply perpetuate harm. A very wise man once said…

"When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil SYSTEMS. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the SYSTEM. MLK Jr."

Until we are able to address oppression as a conglomerate beloved community, I guess I will continue to live my parents’ Jim Crow in South Beach, San Francisco.

GEORGINA KLEEGE, Lecturer, UC Berkeley: “It’s a common experience for people with disabilities to feel that they are being stared at or to notice they are being stared at.   And in fact, blind people can feel that, too, a kind of collective intake of breath even if nobody says anything, you can tell when you attract attention..”    July 6, 2017, PBS News Hour

This Week in Living My Parents' Jim Crow in South Beach, San Francisco, a weekly chronicle.

Week 1 - December 1- 8, 2019

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the musical Hamilton Tuesday night at the Orpheum Theater here in San Francisco.  The set designs and music were phenomenal! The choreography grand!  Each player’s step were timed perfectly with a rotating platform to simulate motion on a static stage.

The next morning, around seven, I witnessed a comparable choreographed play as I walked the four short blocks to catch an uptown train, and there they were, at the corner, timed perfectly with my steps as if enveloped into my dance.  I've witnessed this dancer's steps many times before, the hysterical hipster with hound of the #GentrifyingGeorge type!  They moved in concert with my black/white dance to the corner, in tandem with my move to the identical spot. 

Were they reminding me that I was breaking the rules of the black/white dance in the "hood?"  Were they transporting me back in time to a historical place in the social construct of race?  Transporting me to the path of my ancestor, Harriet Tubman, chased by hounds on the Underground Railroad?

Thursday, December 5, 2019

I rode home on my bike and was greeted around three in the afternoon with a parade of neighbors, lining the street.  Were they there to welcome me home or check my dance moves in the black/white play?  Still on my bike and Just a few feet from my front door, a SUV backed out, rapidly in reverse, in front of me, nearly running over me.  Again had I missed a step in the dance?  Did I commit a party foul in this Jim Crow dance?

Friday, December 6, 2019
Mob Hysteria danced with me today at my front door.  We locked steps as my taxi drove up.  One actor in the routine feigned snapping images of the stunning Bay Bridge.  I yielded to this performer and they exited stage left, their dance number complete.  Then, as if scripted, a second dancer in the black/white play rode up on a bike costumed as a delivery person, calling for others to join the black/white dance in my building's lobby.  At that point, I exited stage left as the previous actor, down the stairs. 

But most strange was the out of character actor dancing pass me on the stairs.  This performer did not blend well into the theme of the dance.  This actor seemed Improperly cast for the black/white production.   Had the play’s director erred in placing this actor with skin like mine in the role of oppressor?   Was this actor injuring another black person in the absence of the oppressor?

Sunday, December 8, 2019

On Saturday, I rode down to a local haven for those of us seeking the “warmth of other suns,” those of us seeking a respite from the daily drudge of Jim Crow acidity.  This haven holds those of us of African descent in high esteem.  It has a way of neutralizing the singe of Jim Crow mainly with sacred gatherings.  However, my bike ride to the rays of the other suns was marred by unexpected dancers of the black/white play.  All lining the three-mile route to the sacred space.  Each one I passed singed my psyche, their optics reeking of oppression.  The symbols they held with an eight-foot line tortured by great-grandparents in the antebellum and in the fight for integration.  What possessed these actors in the dance?  Had the stage been expanded outside of South Beach?

This Week in Living My Parents' Jim Crow in South Beach, San Francisco, a weekly chronicle.

Week 2 - December 9-15, 2019