The Wilmington Journal newspaper ran a story on the front page about the charges of racism against Lou and his conflict with our neighbors. Lou was thrilled about the article that described the dispute. I was mortified to have to defend his position in my office.
We’ve been at odds with these neighbors since they moved in. The conflict itself is not because they are black; but because they are black, it has turned into a racial issue. They run a delivery service out of their house. They make runs between the Washington DC area and New York City. Lou thinks that it is newspaper delivery service as a cover for running drugs. I don’t know, and frankly he doesn’t know either. What I do know is that around 3:00 am nightly, people are opening and slamming doors as they move boxes between vehicles and the house, and they have a variety of workers coming and going at all hours. We live at the end of a cul-de-sac, and there are constantly different people coming and going in what should be a quiet neighborhood.
One day, I was working in our front yard and driveway, and noticed a man apparently waiting for someone, leaning against an unfamiliar car in front of that neighbor’s house. I felt like he was staring at me, so I moved inside the garage. Lou asked what I was doing; I explained I was uncomfortable, and just wanted to move out of sight for a bit. Lou stalked down the driveway and yelled out, “Hey! What are you looking at?” He answered back, “Certainly not you.” Lou told him he should move on, the guy got in his car, and flipped Lou the bird while he drove away. Next thing we knew, there was a warrant out for Lou’s arrest for a racist hate crime. The owner of the house filed a complaint against Lou for harassment, and gave several examples, including flat out lies, claiming Lou had actually said, “What are you looking at, Nigger?” and that it was Lou who had given the visitor the finger. I saw and heard everything, and Lou did not call the guy a name at all. They also claimed that Lou is obviously a KKK supporter and flaunts it with Duke stickers on his car and Duke clothing. They apparently think Lou’s Duke University gear represents David Duke.
It didn’t become a black-white issue until the neighbors made it one. The controversy was all about the nuisance of a home-based delivery business. Now, it has morphed into a conflict between Lou and those black people who happen to have a delivery business. Lou thinks people like them are the reason that other people don’t like black neighbors. I argue that you can’t generalize like that. Lou is definitely prejudiced. He was brought up with the belief that black people are generally a certain way, and that those who don’t match the profile are the exceptions. Not just blacks, but Jews, and Asians, and anyone who is different from him. I don’t sit by and let him make generalized offensive comments about people, so for the most part he has learned to keep his mouth shut around me, knowing that I’ll get disgusted by his attitude and disagree with him.
As far as the neighbor is concerned though, there is a real problem. Sometimes Lou pushes the conflict by parking my car in front of their house just to bust balls. He is disgusted by the other neighbors who don’t stand up against them as well. While Anjelica was with Lou, he got into a disagreement with the owner of the adjacent house, who didn’t think Lou should be stirring the pot by parking in front of the other house, which only made the delivery vans park in front of his home. Lou called the guy a spineless jellyfish for not challenging the delivery service neighbor, and for only being willing to speak up to Lou in front of Anjelica. Now I’m totally uncomfortable being in my own neighborhood.
One day, Lou was laughing while looking out our window, and pointed out to me that all of the tires in front of the delivery service house were flat. He had hinted to me once before when he had lost a lawsuit with someone that he planned to retaliate by punching a screwdriver into the other party’s car tires. I told him back then not to do it, and that revenge wasn’t going to change anything. I always wondered if he did it anyway. And I wonder about the neighbor’s tires. Like with so many things, I wonder, but don’t really want to know, because then I would need to act. Does that make me just as bad?