I was nine years old when the Watts Riot erupted in the neighborhood that my Grandmother Neva lived in. We were living in white suburb-e-a Anaheim, California (home of Disneyland!) and I had never heard the term "riot" before, so had no idea what one was when I heard my parents speaking of it after a phone call to my Grandmother.
It did not sound good.
The (predominantly black/hispanic) Los Angeles neighborhood that my father and mother had grown up in, was under siege with residents unable to leave their homes for fear of being caught in the crossfire of the riot. The news stated that no one who lived or worked in the area were safe from the violent release of suppressive feelings that had long been a part of living in Watts. The looting and physical violence affected everyone and everything in its path.
My dad knew he needed to drive into the city to pick up his mother and remove her from the danger, however, even he, (tough Irishman that he was) seemed a bit unnerved as to how he would make it to his mother's house safely. Being a "ginger" he knew he would stand out driving through the rioting streets.
It was decided that perhaps if I accompanied him, that would avert any problems.
After all, a father and his nine year old daughter would stand a better chance of making it to my grandmothers house unscathed than just a single white 40-something male driving through the area. (I always KNEW my parents had it out for me...)
This whole driving to rescue my Granmother (and her black next door neighbor) was long ago filed away under my "childhood events" that I thought had been forgotten until something, such as the recent events at Ferguson, Missouri, pushes them to the forefront demanding to be examined once again.
Wikipedia-ing the Watts Riot I was appalled to read that the very same situation that I had been a part of 49 years ago was happening in Ferguson, and had been, in communities through out the states. I knew that we citizens had a long way to go before this country could live up to it's (self established) name of "Land of the free..." it's just one of those facts that get filed away to the back of the cabinet unless you are directly affected by it. What a supreme tragedy that after all this time, situations like these are still such a part of who we are in this first world country.
Perhaps we all could use a refresher (or introductory) course asking ourselves..."Where is the Love?"
Change is more than long overdue.