The plot of land next to our house is curiously vacant for a plot located in a rather expensive part of town. The house next to that is abandoned. Across the street from us (a different street than the drug dealers) is an aging black guy I’ll call Roscoe that I’ve never spoken to but have always exchanged friendly waves with when I see him. Roscoe frequently has guests over and they hang out on a table in his front yard. Next to him across our vacant lot is another vacant lot and across our abandoned house is a set of… something… being built.
Across a different street, as I’ve mentioned, is drug dealers. I’ve actually gotten used to them being around and have even said “hi” to them on a few occasions. Some of them are suspicious and quiet, but others are friendly. You’d be surprised how used to living with drug dealers you can get whem they’re mostly amenable people or at least quiet. I’ve stopped worrying about them a long time ago.
A few weeks back in front of (and maybe inside) the house next to the vacant lot next to us, a bunch of people started to congregate. I started getting the “suspicious characters” vibe that may or may not be related to the congregation of a dozen or so young, big black men. My main fear was that if they were setting up something in that house that might be a rival to the drug dealers across the street… we would be right in the middle of that. They disappeared after a week or two.
Then a couple of weeks ago we came home to fine a trailer parked in the vacant lot adjacent to Roscoe’s residence across the street. It was Easter weekend so we figured that it was an Easter Party. But Easter weekend came and went and they were still there. Roscoe is a social guy with a lot of friends so we figured it was his. And every night there were 10-20 guys listening to music and talking and maybe dancing a bit to the music. I noticed that the guys were significantly younger than Roscoe so I figured that maybe they were friends of his son.
After a week or so had passed they were still out there partying and I noticed that I hadn’t seen Roscoe and his friends out in a while. The thought had occurred to me that these might not be Roscoe’s guys. They might, in fact, be the people hanging out at the abandoned house a couple plots down from us on our side of the street. The chances of them owning the property they’re on had diminished in my eyes.
For the most part they wrap up the music before it gets to be too late. Eleven or so on weeknights, before midnight or one on weekends. The music is never all that loud, though it’s enough to prevent us from opening our window if we can avoid it. But mostly it’s just a little unsettling to have them out there every day, drinking beer listening to music and partying. Particularly when I don’t know who they are and if they own (or are renting) the property they’re on. Also unsettling, since they’ve taken root I have not seen Roscoe and his friends doing their thing in quite some time.
It’s hard to say to what extent this might be a racial thing. I would be less likely to be as unsettled if it were twenty beer-bellied white guys listening to country music, but instead it’s fifteen or so young black men with only a woman or two around, if any at all, listening to R&B (and a little, though not much, light rap). On the other hand Roscoe and his friends, also black, don’t bother me at all even though they pumped their music just as loud or even louder. And to be honest we are in a historically black neighborhood (it’s not even an economic thing, almost no Latinos, either) and we’ve no real problem with that. But I guess it’s hard not to have some really negative mental associations when it comes to black men, dressed a certain way and acting a certain way for which there really isn’t a white equivalent (except rednecks, who aren’t as scary if you’re a straight white couple).
Not sure what, if anything, we’re going to do about it. Clancy has toyed with contacting somebody, though I’m disinclined to. They have been at least somewhat courteous about closing down at a reasonable time and they might be friends of Roscoe’s kid. Also, to be frank, I’m very much disinclined to make enemies in this neighborhood whether they’re from here or not. We’re pretty conspicuous around here as it is. Also, just as there are stereotypes about thuggish young black men, there are also stereotypes about uptight Yuppie white couples uncomfortable with a borderline racist discomfort living amongst people they see as racial riff-raff. I’m very anxious not to live up to any aspect of that stereotype, if at all possible.
I think I’m going to take a wait-and-see attitude. If Roscoe has been chased inside by these guys then he’s paying a stiffer price than we are and if he’s not stepping forward there may be a very good reason for it. If they own the property then they’ve been hassled needlessly in an area where citizen-police relationships are more than a bit strained as it is. If they’re trespassing then presumably the property’s owners are going to find out about it at some point because they keep the trailer there 24/7.
Right now I’m more curious than anything. Curious about who they are and curious about why I feel the way that I do about them.