Jennifer Redmond makes it 33

at one time graffiti was an act of creation. It still can be.

Tagged, you’re it, graffiti is not child’s play

Literati,

I am on the road…this morning in Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic on my way to Vienna. While I still have internet I would to post one more of the story entries based on the prompt “The Drinking Fountain.”

It bubbled forth not water, but poison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had asked that you respond in any way the prompt inspired you–either with an essay, poem, or a story in which you were either victim, survivor, or perpetrator of the racism endemic to growing up in America.  We all breathe the same air…

Jennifer Redmond brings an interesting point to the discussion… see if you agree.  Here is her untitled piece:

 

by Jennifer Redmond

When I was 9, I lived in the Venice Canals—a very hip and accepting place—in 1970, a very hip and accepting time. My parents were older hippies, meaning over 30, and we siblings were three young flower children.

My 11-year-old brother had some friends who played hooky, smoked, shoplifted, and were all-around juvenile delinquents. With all the children we had to choose from, these (slightly) older boys were the kids we considered “cool.”

These older boys barely accepted Joe and never even said hi to me, but I tagged along on one of their local market raids, where they boosted a bevy of snacks. I was deeply afraid, but I pocketed a piece of penny candy, and felt I was truly one of “the gang.”

One night, my brother told me the guys were going to egg someone’s place. Luckily, I knew where the local wild ducks laid their eggs. Bottom line, I found enough duck eggs to be allowed to go along. (We lived with my dad at the time, and he drove a cab all night, so we often stayed home alone.)

We snuck along the alley that evening, five or six of us kids, all the way to Venice Blvd. At the corner of the boulevard was a market. It was closed and dark.

We crept into the parking lot and laid out our ammunition. I had a dozen eggs, many no doubt well past ripe, as I had found them abandoned in old nests. My brother and I sorted through them, trying to look like we knew what we were doing. Then the oldest boy there pulled out a couple of spray paint cans.

“We’ll show them!” he cried, and started spraying words on the back wall of the market as we splattered the walls with rotten eggs. I could read, of course, but the words he wrote made no sense to me.

My brothers had played games where the bad guys were called “Japs,” but I couldn’t make any sense of “Japs go home!” The boy had written this a few times across the walls, along with curse words, which were even more confusing to me (not that I hadn’t heard them, but what did it mean to write it here about these “Japs”?)

The next day, our cover blown, my brother and I were each made to march into the store alone and apologize. I cried when I met the nice couple who owned the store and they explained how much it had hurt them to read the scrawled words. I knew then that what we’d done was awfully wrong, on many levels.

And if we, having been raised by such open-minded and tolerant people were so easily lead to such a hateful act, imagine how easy it can be to lead children to truly hate those who are in any way different, and for those kids to pick up a gun rather than a spray can.

 

When I was 9, I lived in the Venice Canals—a very hip and accepting place—in 1970, a very hip and accepting time. My parents were older hippies, meaning over 30, and we siblings were three young flower children.

My 11-year-old brother had some friends who played hooky, smoked, shoplifted, and were all-around juvenile delinquents. With all the children we had to choose from, these (slightly) older boys were the kids we considered “cool.”

These older boys barely accepted Joe and never even said hi to me, but I tagged along on one of their local market raids, where they boosted a bevy of snacks. I was deeply afraid, but I pocketed a piece of penny candy, and felt I was truly one of “the gang.”

One night, my brother told me the guys were going to egg someone’s place. Luckily, I knew where the local wild ducks laid their eggs. Bottom line, I found enough duck eggs to be allowed to go along. (We lived with my dad at the time, and he drove a cab all night, so we often stayed home alone.)

We snuck along the alley that evening, five or six of us kids, all the way to Venice Blvd. At the corner of the boulevard was a market. It was closed and dark.

We crept into the parking lot and laid out our ammunition. I had a dozen eggs, many no doubt well past ripe, as I had found them abandoned in old nests. My brother and I sorted through them, trying to look like we knew what we were doing. Then the oldest boy there pulled out a couple of spray paint cans.

“We’ll show them!” he cried, and started spraying words on the back wall of the market as we splattered the walls with rotten eggs. I could read, of course, but the words he wrote made no sense to me.

My brothers had played games where the bad guys were called “Japs,” but I couldn’t make any sense of “Japs go home!” The boy had written this a few times across the walls, along with curse words, which were even more confusing to me (not that I hadn’t heard them, but what did it mean to write it here about these “Japs”?)

The next day, our cover blown, my brother and I were each made to march into the store alone and apologize. I cried when I met the nice couple who owned the store and they explained how much it had hurt them to read the scrawled words. I knew then that what we’d done was awfully wrong, on many levels.

And if we, having been raised by such open-minded and tolerant people were so easily lead to such a hateful act, imagine how easy it can be to lead children to truly hate those who are in any way different, and for those kids to pick up a gun rather than a spray can.

 

 

10 comments

  1. Avatar
    Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

    A pleasure to read. Truth rendered with graceful simplicity and no agitated moralizing to overload the message. Well done and well said.

  2. Avatar
    Baruch Howard, Jerusalem says:

    well done. A deep moral code must be found through our families, otherwise, we are susceptible to evil leadership, weather nine years old or fifty……………

    • Avatar

      My parents were very accepting and tolerant; they were shocked to hear what we’d done. In this case, I can’t blame their morals, but my own willingness to be led by those who had not earned my trust.

  3. Avatar
    Jon Tobias says:

    I like the careful way the story reaches its point at the end, which leaves the reader with a very disturbing thought. How easy is it to perpetuate hate, and how quickly could that hate escalate from vandalism to bodily harm? Very well written entry.

  4. Avatar
    Miryam says:

    Your writing beautifully portrayed the very real struggle we are all born to wrestle with… that “evil inclination”…. Great submission. Thanks.

Comments are closed.