I have grown up in a middle-class household with urban and modern values. I have been brought up in a lovely home, with siblings, friends, neighbors, and a safe environment to flourish and grow up. I have seen people die natural and accidental deaths, I have seen life to be unfair to people, and like every normal boy, I have understood life quite from the perspective of an average house. Like all parents, my parents have always wished the best of me, kept me safe from the negative aspects of the society, and have taught me to be positive. Till school, I lived with my parents, and when I shifted to college, I came to the campus with many other students of my age.
I have always grown around the white-black debate, and im afraid to say that it has become a norm around us now. We have always heard that the black population has always been treated a little differently than other races. The US being the prime example of the black-white hatred, we have always heard incidents about the injustice that is being done to the black families. When I was younger, I used to think that several black families live in our neighborhood, and there has never been a problem around us. So my conclusion was always that there were different segments of settlements where there was simply a larger rise in the crime rates, and because more black populations lived there, there were higher suspicion rates. This is because I had never seen transform just being a different skin color, race, or different gender.
Mr. and Mrs. Wilson have always lived two houses away from us, as long as I can remember. They were there when I was born, and I have been told that they were amongst the first neighbors that came to congratulate my parents on my birth. They were there during barbeques, birthdays, they bought lemonade from all the children during our charity parade, and I have always seen them smile at everyone who rings their doorbell. To me, they have never been any different from all the neighbors. They are both accomplished in their fields; Mr. Wilson is a heart surgeon, and Mrs. Wilson is a 4th-grade science teacher. They have a daughter and son, ages 4 and 2. The following incidents took place in June 2020, as we were under the lockdowns. For a lot of us, the lockdowns have changed us. We have become more sensitive and aware of the world, many of us are undergoing depression and other issues, but for many others, their lives have been completely transformed. I saw the Wilson family change in their appearances to the look in their eyes.
On May 25th, the death of George Floyd caused an uproar in the US with protests springing to demand an explanation for treating someone of the black race in such a ruthless manner. On the 27th of May, the Wilson family rang everyone’s doorbell in the neighborhood to gather support and charity for a protest they and their friends were organizing that would be a peaceful march from our neighborhood to the police headquarters. As they were handing out the black t-shirts, they felt that many of the neighbors were reluctant to join them. But what happened at Mr. Clarkson’s house, changed everything. As Mr. Clarkson was politely refusing the Wilson’s that he and his family will not be participating in the protest, his older son Robert came out and said “What’s the point of this? George is dead anyway, and he got what he deserved. He was a black man he should have stayed quiet and should have knelt in front of the white police”.
After this, both the families started shouting at each other, and the enraged Wilsons returned to their house. The next morning the Wilsons informed the police about the incident, a police officer went to the Clarkson’s house and issued the family a warning for disturbing the peace in the neighborhood and for threatening their neighbors. The same evening everyone in the neighborhood heard gunshots. We all went out, and I saw that Robert was holding a gun in the middle of the street and pointing towards Mr. Wilson, who was standing beside his car in his driveway. It seemed that Mr. Wilson had just come home and Robert had shot him on his premises. There was complete silence for what seemed like the two longest minutes. Then there was screaming of Mrs. Wilson and her children.
The entire neighborhood saw what happened, but when the police came, every member refused that they had seen Robert anywhere near Wilson’s house. I saw it with my own eyes, but my father threatened me that I would not tell anyone what I saw. I saw Mrs. Wilson screaming at her husband’s funeral that we were all dead and that God will see that we suffer. It is august now, within these two months, I saw Mrs. Wilson become stone-hearted and cold in stature. She stopped looking around her. She shifted and took her children with her and left the house. There were days when she begged at every doorstep in society and asked everyone about their faith and that they give their statement to the police. But each time, she had doors shut to her face. Her husband died in his own house because he was black and he was speaking up against injustice. That’s all his crime was. He was refused justice because the white privilege still exists.
The neighborhood is quiet now. It is good that we are still under lockdown because we can ignore facing each other. But to date, I can’t get over the fact that I was given a chance to speak the truth, but I didn’t avail it. It was a matter of 3 minutes when the police questioned me; I could have said yes it was Robert with a gun and I saw it with my own eyes. But instead, I said no, I was taking in my room, and when I came out, I saw no one except Mr. Wilson was shot. Like very good neighbors we just called the authorities. It was a white lie that came out of all the white folks. I have not been able to sleep well since then and im afraid I won’t be for a very long time.