Leaving Emeryville, I swung around the tent city settled under the freeway. Sensitive to several cop cars huddled together, I slowed to eye the activity.
Dear unknown teens,
I saw you this afternoon, your cars blocking my driveway as well as my neighbor's. Black teenage bodies leaning on cars, laughing, trash talking, flirting, basketballs bouncing. Your bodies are forbidden here and thousands of teens like you have been punished for encroaching on space that is 'not yours.'
Like a lioness scanning the land for danger, I do not watch you but rather watch out for you. I survey cars rolling by, whose drivers slow to scope you out. Their expressions show doubt in this being a normal teenage gathering. I see you hold strong to your dignity as you stare down those suspicious eyes, quickening your basketball dribble, maintaining your exaggerated laughter. The struggle over space never ends for you. Never.
Wanting you to have a home in the world, I approach all five of you. I grieve your long faces as I advance, guarded spirits ready to be vilified, ready to duel for your worth. To remain safe, I make a request that you block only my driveway. I trust you. I see you. You have space here. Silence overwhelms you.
Seeing others and offering space is something we can do each and everyday. Just imagine.