Teachable Moment by Kevin Stewart, Copyright 2017
Recently, my lover and I had a teachable moment. On our block we were pulled over by the police. Kay was driving and she seemed to act a bit slow, not thinking we were the car chosen to be pulled over. I said slowly pull over and we will wait. The officer did his job. We have had a crack down in my neighborhood and a gentrification on going. The police presence is high as it should be.
The officer asked for License and Registration. Kay was a bit nervous I was not, because I’m a black man a few block from my home. I told the officer I was reaching for my readers from my pocket to assist her in finding the registration. He took the items, went back to the patrol car, Kay was nervous at this point. I calmed her down by saying they are doing their job we will let them do their job and you are white, forget about it! The stop lasted a few moments. No ticket was issued. I thanked the officer for the stepped up patrol. I told the officer I lived on the block where the young man was shot in the head in his car. He knew where my home was. I told him we had talked to our Council Woman: Debbie Rose, whom my Mother knows. They agreed, relief came across his face. When we did got home I told Kay welcome to being Black in America. She took a minute to relax. I was not phased by the interaction.
We are living thru a crack down, on Vanderbilt Ave in SI & the North shore of the island. My Mother has lived in this house for 40+ years, and paid for it on her own. The sound of gun fire in the hood, a block away was unsettling and disappointing a year and a half ago.. I want protection as a home owner. This is why we pay taxes. I never felt threatened or dis-respected that evening. It was a pleasant exchange. Because I know the techniques of survival in America an as a Black Man! Stay still, be pleasant and do not get out of your damn car. Answer the questions asked and go on your way. I don’t really drive much any more. I have a white female driver to lessen the chances of getting stopped, oh well.
Now Miss K knows as well. As my Mother told her. Welcome to the ghetto! Within three years, the property values have sky rocketed. The neighborhood has grown very quiet. There are restaurants and cafes. Hipsters and all kinda folks. Homes for sale & selling fast. This is modern Staten Island in 2017. The apartment buildings across the street, grew dark this past Summer. They were sold for a large sum. Renovated and emptied as folks moved out of the back of the buildings. I am sorry there is no more Section 8 and the buildings, bought and emptied. If you don’t or can’t pay your rent. You must find other lodging. I had a tenant. Same result we had to go to court and they had to leave. The apartment was recked. I had to renovate. I understand change. It has touched everywhere I have lived in NYC. Harlem, Brooklyn & Queens. I was born in Brooklyn, can’t afford a ham and cheese sandwich in Brooklyn now or a cup of JOE. Anyway, there was no need to get shot going home from a nice meal on The Rock, The Island of Staten!
About The Author: Kevin Stewart, aka Professor Badass is a seasoned old school shirtmaker/designer based on Staten Island, New York. Mr. Stewart will be launching a new line of menswear in 2017.
Portrait of Kevin Stewart by Tony Ward, Copyright 2017
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