The London riots give me chills.
Back in 92, the LA riots exploded up the coast, over the farmlands and into Richmond, where I lived in a pale blue house on Yuba Street with my mother, father and two older brothers. I remember some things. I have forgotten others. I don’t remember driving through the worst part of Richmond in our old red Toyota, but my mother says we stopped at a light, my father was driving and we kids were in the back, and a group of black men carrying bats came at us and my father ignored the lights and speed to our small house where we baraccaded ourselves inside, pensive and quiet, watching through a small t.v. what man was capable of.
I do remember going back to school. I had a 6th grade science teacher that I didn’t like. He made fun of religious people on a daily basis and said anyone who believed in heaven was stupid because what was so great about sitting on a cloud for the rest of eternity. Then he rambled on about naked cherubs and harps. I sat in the front row and thought he was talking directly to me, making fun of my family that went to church each Sunday and prayed for meals and did all the other “stupid” things he mentioned. I fumed while he spoke. He usually gave the “religion is worthless” speech as an intro to whatever Carl Sagen show we were going to watch. He loved Carl Sagen. He loved talking about Carl Sagen. Carl Sagen was his god. During the riots a group of black teenagers jumped him and beat his skull in. He didn’t come back and I felt guilty. As though my inner fear and hatred were particles that escaped through my pours and mingled in the atmosphere with the fear and hatred of those black youth that kicked his skull into the sidewalk.
I don’t remember if we had days off of school, though I’m sure we did. And I don’t remember if my parents went back to work, though I’m sure they had to. I have the memory of waiting for them in the house. Did we stay away from the windows? Did my mother say that? She would say something like that. She probably had to work, because we had no money, but she probably worried herself sick if she did. That’s what she does. Still. She worries and protects. And my dad. I remember feeling safe because my dad was there. And I think of him now, how he was then — so skinny — what could he have done? He must have weigh, I’ll guess, 130 pounds. But my dad, I can’t explain him, I like him more and more the older I get. I don’t know how to explain the calm in him. He flows. Sometimes he fights the flow. But mostly. He gets in and he flows. And all of us around him wrap our arms around his neck – terrified.
I’m sure there are other stories from those few days. I’m sure my brothers remember more.
London, you poor girl, with all your beauty. All those ancient stories. May God help us all.