Thursday, June 23, 2011

Soul Food and Snicthing

I sat in the chair as my barber placed a cold towel on my face. The chill followed the warmth of the hot towel that helped close the pours opened after my shave. I took a deep breath in celebration of my pampering session. I did my best to block the chatter in the room. Too much had happened over the previous weeks. I was gasping for air after reflecting on the murder of three girls followed by a suicide, the death of a friend’s sister after falling through a hotel window in Atlanta, tornadoes, floods, and more that kept me on my knees in prayer.

The towel blocked the faces of those in the room. I listened as they discussed encounters with the police. They talked about snitching-a term used to discount those who informed the police about the misdeeds of a person of color. “I would tell in a heartbeat,” I murmured to myself as they continued to minimize those who talk to the police.

“I have to get out of here,” my barber uttered as he took the towel from my face. “Things are different over here.

So true. Things had changed since my barber moved to another location where the customers echoed life in the fast lane. I then noticed the man in the chair next to mine. His arm was wrapped in bandage due to a recent chase for his life. The night before my shave two vehicles, a dark blue Charger and a white or gray Acura, pulled up next to him as he drove on the Durham Freeway. Men in those cars took shots forcing him to flee from the car and run for his life.

That incident followed the death of Michael Orlando Hunter on Saturday. Motorist in another car pulled next to his BMW 323 and sprayed bullets into the car. He died after crashing into a tree near the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Something didn’t feel right. God knows I hate making assumptions, but why all that talk about snitching? It left me wondering about how much is known that no one has the guts to tell. I left feeling the pulse of life in a warzone.

Something didn’t feel right. I remembered the last time I felt that way. I was walking across the street on Garfield Avenue in St. Louis with my sister. A car pulled up, a man jumped out and started shooting in the direction of me and my sister. The bullets fell near our feet. We both remained frozen. What just happened, I thought at the time. What just happened, I thought as I left the barbershop.

It was time to get something to eat. I drove South on Fayetteville Road as I considered my options. I stopped at the Chicken Hut and ordered baked chicken, mashed potatoes and lima beans and corn. I needed something to erase the memories, the fears and the uneasiness that was tormenting me. What is that feeling, I thought as I took my seat.

Another deep breath to settle my heart beat. “Looks like we have another DC sniper,” a woman at the table next to mine alleged. “Those two shooting had too much alike.”

The man and the woman sharing the table agreed with her conclusion. “You know the police don’t want to tell us the truth,” the man said.

“I think the two are connected in some way,” I said. They listened and nodded. The words brought to the surface what I was feeling. I had no evidence to support my assumption. All I had was a gut seeking resolution after receiving the comfort of a shave.

I took a bite of my chicken. I don’t get to eat down home cooking that often. The best place to get it is at one of those holes in the wall-like the Chicken Hut. You have to find a place in the “hood”-where people function in a counter culture. The food is different there.

It’s also a place where people don’t talk to the police. People know things related to unsolved crimes. They don't talk because you don’t snitch in the “hood”. If I knew I would snitch. I have my gut, but guts can’t testify in the court of law.

1 comment:

  1. Amen and pass the grits, uh - guts! I just had the same conversation with my husband early this morning as we watched the news story of a third shooting on Hwy 540.

    The same description was given of the two vehicles: a gray or silver Acura and a dark blue Charger. The Acura pulled up close behind the victim's car and flashed the headlights. The Charger pulled beside, seemingly in an attempt to box in the victim.

    Durham Police Dept's immediate response to the slaying of Mr. Hunter was that it was not a random killing. When I first heard about the crime and the police response, I thought to myself, "Here we go -- again," and later wondered out loud if that's DPD's pat statement to keep the public at bay as they fall short in "attempts" to catch murderers.

    As I watched, horrified, this third report of a shooting on the Triangle's highways and felt deeply grieved for Mr. Hunter's family, I wondered if this was gang initiation activity or another DC Sniper. I also wondered if it we would have to rely on the Raleigh Police Department to do what the DPD can't seem to -- catch a killer.