Perhaps they didn’t read the instructions. I thought. Maybe they didn’t know, didn’t take the time to learn the rules, perhaps. Both choices seemed stupid; the instructions for hopscotch are online and even a crazy man implicitly understands what to do by saying the name of the game. Hers was a walk – one, two and three, four … five, six and seven … eight … nine and ten – sadly converting the beloved childhood exercise into a slow motion game, unrecognizable game of Step-Step-Drag. Another woman about the same age took her turn. I silently urged her to hop. She didn’t. I studied both of them carefully; none appeared to be infirmed, nothing seemed to explain this strange behavior, with the exception of laziness. No, I couldn’t hear them; distance and thick glass prevented me from spying, intruding any further. I am sure though these young women’s step-step-drag was what it was, a lazy, life-styled imposed bastardization of a time-honored childhood game. I continued to watch as their charges – young children – observed, waited before taking a turn. They did what they did – Step-Step, Drag; Step-Step, Drag; Step-Step, Drag – heresy!
Seeing me, me seeing her
Looking up, seeing me, me seeing her. She immediately changed direction, tracing an angled line to the other side of the street. Doing the social distancing thing? – Perhaps.
Her movement seemed familiar to me, previously experienced, a practiced societal distancing moment – moving away, quickly, when seeing one of them; calling the police when two, no more than three, decide to remain in place in a public place (parks, street corners, malls, standing in our own yards, a unique rule applied to us); years of telling on them people/their kind/me for just being what we are; stacking assumptions on top of assumptions because of this melanin endowed birth-right, a seeming preordained condition making the Curse of Ham a true prophesy.
My mind wandered, seeing history’s methodical dance, with each step, as she powered walked across the two lane road, doing the Southern thing. You know, the Southern thing: locking car doors as those who looked like me moved through the parking lot, retreating away; equating our mere presence as the definition of probable cause in the criminal law; engaging in the mental dance of seeing us when playing word games, “deviant behavior”, “criminal,” a “cucaracha”.
Seeing this, seeing that
Seeing this, seeing that, wandering how this social distancing thing will play over the long haul. Will we treat everyone the same? Do we do the history thing and try to blame the Chinese? Do the Chinese do likewise and shift the blame to others? Do we do as our great leader has done? Step, step, drag; step, step, drag indeed. Perhaps ultimately blame Africans. No, no, this would be stretching even my random thoughts too far. We wouldn’t. They wouldn’t. Right…?
My mind continued to process history as she stepped onto the sidewalk across the street to continue her walk. Perhaps … maybe …let me gander to share – this social distancing thing may work for me, causing my mind will stop playing tricks on me, permitting me to realize there is no such thing as a color-line. Life would be perfect.
The ability to social distance is a matter of choice; not a matter of economic or societally-imposed conditions; never a matter of race – perfect, perfect – step, step, hop. Something to be performed in an egalitarian manner; equal, without regards to race, national origin, economic condition. Hopscotch indeed – I feel much better.
When she was straight-line directly across from my place on the sidewalk, I nodded in her direction. She didn’t do likewise. She continued to do the Southern thing, what good Southern neighbors do – she pretended I didn’t exist.
I truly believe we will work through all of this – I mean the virus thing. First we will learn how to use the word “some” better – some will die, some will not. We will be forced to because we know our history – don’t we?
Scientist will have conduct test/clinical trials to obtain a cure – don’t they. History’s tales say so: Syphilis tale, tests conducted in this country (Tuskegee) and Guatemala; gonorrhea tale (conducted by American scientist on the prison population in Terre Haute, Indiana); cholera and typhoid and plague-ridden fleas tales (tests conducted by the Japanese Imperial Army upon the Chinese people), and the HIV/AIDs experiments which were conducted on Africans by the French and Belgians.
Looking out the window, seeing an invisible virus change the world; gone in lock-down, threatening the world economic order in which they told us was invincible, wondering what one can do, cannot do, still seeing an history’s incredible and consistent tale. I no longer feel good about any of this.
Of course, we have seen this before, whether we realize it or not. The use medical and scientific know-how to save the world for the betterment of human-kind; saving those deemed to be the chosen (isn’t this is what the Nazi did). Conducting tests on the least of us (isn’t this the tale of colonialism, slavery, the annihilation of the indigenous people). But we wouldn’t. We couldn’t. Not in today’s egalitarian society. Would we repeat history’s tales? Oh absolutely we would.
The pattern is always in the same: identify the evil to be tackled, establish a protocol, search the world for tests subjects and report out the results – for the good of mankind (people kind) – explain the rest later. The explanation always comes later. The pattern is always the same: to save the world on the backs of the others and condition the rest of us to feel comfortable with what was done in our name. The means justify the end, we are always told. Of course, I am sure of one thing as I muse: the excuse will always come much later.
I muse to say we cannot continue to be lazy about any of this and step, step … drag ourselves through history continued and persistent beat. Our understanding and appreciation of history requires of us to hop-scotch through these new challenges and not allow the save the world mentality to obliteration of “others” rights (which are ultimately our rights). We should require an explanation now to prevent the same erratic, harsh beat from repeating itself.
I hope you feel better. I do.