This video crossed my mind in class yesterday, and I giggled at the thought of it on the blog. While Silly Songs with Larry are goofy, Larry’s situation is reminiscent of the conversations we’ve been having. Larry is unable to access something rightfully his because it fell within the boundaries of a space in which he’s not welcome. He didn’t have the means (a key? Status?) to enter the gated community, and the folks on the inside were too self-congratulatory to take any substantive action.
As the shot first pans over the scenery, we see two different homes. Larry’s a modest 1 and 1/2 level. The houses inside the gated community are all 2+ stories, with columns and balconies, seemingly made of brick and stone with many more windows. The difference is marked, especially by the wrought iron fence. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen one of those this semester, and it’s not the first time we’ve seen it no necessarily as a protector, but as an agent of exclusion (looking at you, Jacob Vaark). I don’t necessarily include the gated community in Parable of the Sower in this because they truly find themselves in peril, and their gate, while it rejects some, does serve a protective purpose.
Larry calls out for the people within the gated community to help him access what is rightfully his- a ball here, but perhaps housing, shelter, clothing or nourishment (alimentary or spiritual) among other things. The veggies inside the gated community are too busy congratulating themselves about what a great space they’ve created for themselves to help him out. If they had listened, it would have been so simple.
I’m a part of this Facebook group called Reparations: Requests and Offerings (check out their webpage here). Natasha Marin began it in mid July, 2016 and is based in Seattle. Marin later created a the group as a way to widen the network of folks making requests and those offering. In the About section of the webpage, Marin “invite[s] People of Color to ask for what we need to feel better, be happier, be more productive by posting in this space. These may be both material and immaterial requests.” Marin then invites White people to “offer services or contributions to People of Color in need of time, energy, substantive care, and support.” This type of format is pretty revolutionary. It shows up on your newsfeed, forcing you to confront others’ experiences, needs, suffering, and celebrations. It also creates a space for people within the gated community to reach out and offer of themselves.
While some folks request monetary help, there are a lot of other ways that White people can contribute. Resume and proofreading help, offering childcare, and offering to send previously-owned clothes to anyone’s location are just a few offerings that have been made.
*There recently has been a lot of discussion about who in the group is contributing. Marin commented that People of Color were the ones making the most offerings, and invited the group to think about the significance of that tendency. The discussion lead to calling in White people in the group to take a more active role, commenting when they donate, being more visible to encourage others. Also, please read the pinned posts so you can operate efficiently within the group if you so choose.*
The Reparations: Requests and Offerings page (which is a closed group, so if you want to be added, just request and someone will add you) isn’t the only way to do this type of work.It is, right now at least, certainly a way to listen to the people who find their ball (or basic rights to housing, healthcare and wellbeing) in our gated communities, be they physical spaces or not.