That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

“Love thy like-skinned neighbor.”

You know that look you have when somebody ticks you off? That look that says, “I can’t stand you! Please get out of my FACE!”

I get that look all the time. From my neighbors.

See, we’re the only black folk on the street. And they don’t like it. Two days ago, I was leaving home to go to a sound check for a gig that was really stressing me out. I had a lot on my mind, and I was praying that God would bring it all together because the people who hired me to play are people for whom I care deeply. The last thing I needed was what I got…

So, I’m trying to make a left at the stop sign at the end of my street, which lets out into a high-traffic thoroughfare, and one of my “neighbors” who lives three houses up, was waiting for cars to pass in order to turn. As she made HER left onto our street, we made eye contact, and I waved.

I knew what was about to happen because it happens so often.

She glared at me as she passed me and neglected to return the neighborly gesture. Her eyes said it all, “I can’t stand you! Get out of my neighborhood! Why do you want to live here? Go live with your own kind!” I’m absolutely SURE she thought, and said, worse.

Later that day, as I was on the way to the actual gig, the same thing happened, except this time it was Kendall’s wife, who lives next door to the house directly across the street. I’m waiting to make a left, she turns in, I wave, she glares. Happens all the time. Right here smack dab in the middle of this “post-racial society.”

And these people have NO call to be snooty! This is a three-bedroom, one-thousand-square-foot-house area. Kendall’s yard is a perpetual dust-bowl, they leave their dumpster out at the curb year-round, they park in the yard, and they’re just generally dirty. And rather than park his car in front of his own house or the one directly across from his, he routinely parks in front of mine. Once, he left his old, broken-down truck in front of my place for two weeks. Luckily, I didn’t have to cut the yard in that time.

My family and I are quiet, neat, and clean. You wouldn’t even know we’s heah, boss. My pop gave me Jerry Baker DVDs with tips on making grass green and such when we moved in almost four years ago, and we have what my two NICE neighbors called “the best yard on the street!” I take my dumpster to the curb Monday night, and bring it back Tuesday afternoon. Our visiting friends are not rowdy, and I — being a night owl — keep a look out all through the night for anything out of order. I am a great neighbor. I have a thing about peace where I live, and *durned* if I’m going to let selfishness ruin someone else’s quality of life!

Recently, my neighbor, Keith — a good guy, informed me that he was purchasing a house and moving. It turns out he was renting! I never would have known! He treated that house like a sick baby! He kept the yard up, and when I left town for gigs, he would look out for me.

As all conscientious people do, I wondered what kind of folk would replace him.

Well… Some more white folk moved in. A woman who appears to be a mechanic, with two sons who appear to be either high school age or just a bit older. These boys are shiftless with shiftless friends.

These things ALWAYS happen to me! As soon as these folks moved in, the place turned into a *durn* Jiffy Lube! A tow truck brought an old Delta 88 there within a week, and they have a Suburban that was parked — not running — in front of my house for almost a month. At any given time there are five vehicles all over the place in various stages of repair. They just woke up my wife and babies from a nap this past Saturday, gunning truck motors and blowing horns.

The boys and their friends smoke weed and feel up little school girls in the back yard among other suspicious activities on a regular basis — day and night. (I get in late from gigs, and I always see shadows outside under the carport at two and three in the morning.)  They are a mess! And summer hasn’t even gotten here yet!

I just find it “funny” that while the people who live on this street glare at us in disgust, mostly refusing to even nod the head, while they lamented our moving in, thinking we would destroy their peaceful, white way of life, these white folks moved in right next door to me and began to do all the stuff they say blacks do! How about THAT for a twist?!?

So why do they hate US? What did I, my wife, and my two little babies do to them? Did we rob them? Do we blare loud music? Did I threaten the women folk? Do I let weeds overrun the lawn?

Or do I just breathe the same air they do? Do I just exist?

And I say all this in light of the fact that this is not indicative of all white people. The man who hired me, and paid me well, to do his newlywed daughter’s party, Eddie, GAVE me his truck! Just gave it to me. Not because I’m destitute, but because I always complimented him on it. And it is a great blessing! Bill and Karen Wells, who read this blog all the time, are some of the best and most sincere people in the world. They offer to keep our kids because they know that I get no sleep. And they MEAN it. We just can’t bring ourselves to impose… A character flaw on our part, indeed. They, as well as Eddie and Becky, have had us in their home often. (As have Hamp and Nancy Holcumb, and Sydney and Paula Payne) These people are incredibly affluent, and have a lot more reason to be snobbish and stand-offish than the dull-minded cretins on MY street, yet you would never know it. They are as regular as old jeans. They have helped us and others when in need.

(There are guys like my friend and fellow musician, Marc, who is one of the real friends I have in life, guys I knew in the military, Kathy’s old boss, Kerry, and dozens of others who don’t look at life through a racial prism.)

 And they have shown me and my family enough love to salve all the hatred that we receive from our “neighbors.”


March 24, 2009 - Posted by | Christian Life, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Rant


  1. […] That NEW Adage added an interesting post today on â […]

    Pingback by Topics about Peace » Archive » “Love thy like-skinned neighbor.” | March 24, 2009 | Reply

  2. Derrick,
    There are no words for this type of behavior- well none that would be appropriate anyway. 🙂 Thank you for continuing to shine a light onto the dark reality that most choose to ignore and look away from in this town.
    Rob & I love you guys with all of our hearts and hope to continue this fight alongside you, one person at a time, one family at a time.

    Lisa! You KNOW you guys are on the “list!” I wanted to contrast the standard of living of the one’s I mentioned with the people who live here. I’m going to post the pictures you took of me and the band, and tell people how you were eight months pregnant when you took them… We love you!

    Comment by Lisa | March 24, 2009 | Reply

  3. If it helps, Derrick, this white guy is reading this post and fighting back tears at the same time … I hate racism. I hate it with fiery passion.

    You’re a great guy, and if you were looking to buy the house that shares our driveway, I’d be thrilled to have you next door.

    I’m sorry that you have to put up with being treated like a second-class citizen by the second-or-third-class neighbors with whom you got stuck.

    I have met so many good people like you through this blog, Wickle! You honor me!

    Comment by wickle | March 24, 2009 | Reply

  4. Let me get those dvd’s…seriously!

    I’m with you. I’m not as neighborly as my husband, but it pains me that he can’t be the ‘neighbor’ that he wants to be! Don’t get me started on the ‘stereotype feeders’ that live next door to us!!!!

    I got you, Heather.

    Comment by heatherltrotter | March 24, 2009 | Reply

  5. Human beings can be the sorriest, of God’s creation, sometimes. We often compare people to animals, and that’s an insult…most of the time to the animals. Honestly. I wonder why folks can’t just enjoy life, and let people be.

    Comment by anappygirl | April 1, 2009 | Reply

  6. Ugh, I hate this stuff. I live in the kind of neighborhood where people are just a tad too “proper” to exhibit such obvious racism if you know what I mean. Many of my neighbors are good people, but I have occasionally heard things from a few like, “The woman opening up the yoga studio in town, you know she’s black…not that that bothers me.” Really? It’s like because I’m white people think they can say some racist thing to me and when I give them the blank stare of disbelief they back peddle the best they can.

    The fact is that my neighborhood is becoming (slowly) more ethnically diverse and, as far as I can tell, it’s a good thing.

    Comment by sara | April 7, 2009 | Reply

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