Speaking from experience, living in predominantly white neighborhoods can be a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s typically a sign of upward mobility, but on the other hand, having to deal with microaggressions and passive-aggressive racism is fairly common. An interracial family based in Raleigh, N.C. can sadly speak to this truth after they say they received a letter that essentially told them to know their place or face the consequences.
According to WRAL, the unsigned letter discouraged the family from putting up any signs in support of Black Lives Matter or George Floyd. “Please remember that the rest of us live in an upscale neighborhood and have spent the extra money to stay out of mixed neighborhoods and/or the ghetto. No one wants trouble or any circumstance arising which could turn our neighborhood into a ‘semi-ghetto,’” the letter states. “Please keep your husband and teenaged kids well behaved and orderly because no one is interested in your or their ‘struggles.’... Most of us would not hesitate to call the police if your kids or husband get unruly, so please be considerate of everyone else living amongst you.”
The family responded to this letter by sending copies to their neighbors and including a note of their own. “If you did not write this letter, we wanted you to be aware of what has happened in our neighborhood. If you are the person that wrote this letter, we will not be intimidated by your cowardly act and ignorance. We are happy to have a discussion regarding love, respect and racism if you have the courage,” the note states.
Some of the family’s neighbors in the Wakefield Estates community have expressed disgust at the contents of the letter. “I was horrified, appalled, disappointed, sad,” Kate Pirrung, a neighbor and family friend, told WRAL. “In the end, underneath all the context, it was a threat: Don’t do this. We’ll report you. We’ll send people over to your house – the police in this particular incident,” Armand Morin said. Given the national conversation around police violence and the fact that Black people are more often subject to its lethal consequences, the language about the police can only be seen as a veiled threat.
The family issued a statement about the incident to WRAL News:
“We want to acknowledge that this letter does not compare to some of the more dire circumstances many people find themselves in on a regular basis due to bigotry. However, it was shocking and ignorant. The outrage, support and kind words expressed to us by so many in our community have overpowered the hate expressed from the one person who wrote the letter. Our hope is for this to inspire respectful conversations and courageous self-examination about bias and racism. To the person who wrote the letter, we pray for your heart to be released from bitterness and filled with understanding and compassion for others. Black lives do matter.”
While this is one of the milder cases we’ve seen, it’s yet another instance of white people feeling they have a divine right to enforce their will on Black people. The message being sent is that we’re not allowed to feel safe, even in our own homes.
Updated: 7/13/2020, 1:49 p.m. ET: WRAL updated its story to reflect that the neighborhood in question is Wakefield Estates, not Wakefield Plantation. The story and photo have been updated to reflect that change.