I’m home in New York for a few weeks…the good old melting pot. I grew up in Southwest Queens, a fabulous mixture of cultures and ethnicities…and a plurality of white Italian/Irish Catholics who didn’t flee to Long Island in the 1980’s despite their obvious xenophobia.
My block is still mainly of the latter kind…my family absolutely screams xenophobia. Those “there are no white people here” and “We speak English in this country” types.
So needless to say, an uproar occured when a group of Latinos moved in across the street last fall.
To my last count, there are about 12 people living in what once was a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home. This doesn’t surprise me…when my grandparents came to this country, they raised six children, a niece and and a nephew in a similar size home where my grandmother’s mother and brother also lived.
At least five of the 12 are children, obviously under the age of 10. You see them playing in the yard, sometimes riding their tricycles around in circles.
Today, as a I sat writing in my parents’ yard, I saw the kids playing in a little inflatable pool. It was pretty warm in New York today. I walked up into the front of my parents’ house to throw away garbage and saw, in the corner of my eye, a woman come out of the yard across the street carrying a child. I thought nothing of it and began heading back toward the backyard.
Then yelling began.
In front my two neighbors are yelling at the mother (or who I assumed to be the mother) of one of the kids across the street who was dragging the child, naked, back across the street by his arms. There was cursing, screaming, ethnic slurs.
As it turns out, the lady brought the kid across to pee on my grandmother’s car…at six o’clock in the evening on a typically busy Queens residential street.
So now my family and the neighbors are enjoying an evening of Latino-bashing, ethnic slurs, Sotomayor jokes, and cries of “thow out the illegals” and something about the neighbor’s child pissing on my grandmother’s car because Barack Obama is President
Defeating xenophobia and negative stereotypes just got a bit harder in my neighborhood.