I Know Which Parties the White Kids Crash
Over the weekend some people had a pool party. Sadly, when underage uninvited guests showed up, the hosts of that party called cops. And mayhem ensued.
I cringe because there’s a whole awful lot of hypocritical people who spew their hatred even though they know that white kids act the same way, but white kids get away with it.
You see, I know a little bit about our hometown. I know a little bit about the neighborhood where the white kids in our hometown grow up. I know a little bit about the lake, and the high school, and I know a little bit about what it’s like to be one of the privileged ones. You know, to have the right skin color.
See, I know where all the white kids go on Friday night to crash the golf course. I know how they sneak through the woods to cross the broken fence in the back, so they can trespass on the greens. I know where they collect all the stray golf balls, and then sell them back to the golf club members.
I know where they all go so they can sneak a swim in the lake. I know where they park their cars and where they drop their clothes, and I know the spot where they skinny-dip across the lake to get to the other side.
I know where those same white kids end up camping for the night. There’s a secluded little camping area with a shelter that’s perfect for lighting a fire and getting high. I know how they get back there without being spotted by the park rangers, and I know how late they hang out back there, beer and alcohol served to minors, and drug paraphernalia that can be found left behind, in broad daylight.
On the rainy nights I know where they drop their canoe into the lake to fish, late at night, even though no one is allowed to fish in that lake. But you go out in the rain, because that’s when the fish bite the best. (And because the park rangers don’t like to be out in the rain, so they won’t bother you.)
And I know which judge they call when they drive home, after their late night shenanigans, so they can get bailed out of jail for their fifth DUI.
That is the crap that the white kids who live in our hometown do. But this party that is in the news, was in broad daylight, and these kids showed up during the day. And the hosts of that party, rather than call their parents, called the cops to have them arrested like thugs. The white kids do it at night and no one ever calls the cops on them, no one ever so much as bats an eyelash, and they go home scot-free. The white kids are no more invited onto the golf green at midnight than those children were invited during the daytime. The white kids have no business skinny-dipping in the lake, or midnight fishing on that lake. But no one ever had them arrested and no one ever called authorities to rough them up and no one ever followed current laws on trespassing, when it was the white kids.
And those same white kids speak up in the public forums, supporting the officers and claiming that those hosts had a damn right to be angry and those cops were “just doing their jobs.”
There’s also a big theological problem, if we happen to be reading this story and we happen to claim to follow Christ. The problem is not that Black kids crashed a pool party. The problem is not that white kids trespass after hours and get high on the lake. The problem is that we thought the Black kids did not belong there.
Lemme back up a bit and give some theological reflection. Let’s talk about this Jesus guy for a minute. See, Jesus had a habit of going around the local places and drawing out the people who had no privilege. The man in the cemetery, who people claimed had demons, was chained up so people would feel safe. That man couldn’t work a job. He was dependent on someone having enough compassion to bring him food, just so he could stay alive. Do you think you would have been the person to bring him food? No! We would all have been cultured to stay far away. That’s why people said he had demons – so people would stay away from him.
But Jesus showed up and healed him that day. Jesus didn’t show up and perform a miracle so that God could show how good God was. Jesus showed up and healed that man and released him from his bondage so that people would stop being afraid of him and so that man could be a part of society again. Jesus healed him so he could work a job and have a family and so he could be part of the Temple worship that was a central part of Jewish life.
We do this all the time, people. We determine all the time who are the people who should be here and who shouldn’t. Every person we see, we question whether they have a right to be there or not. One of the biggest atrocities of white supremacy is an automatic assumption that whites belong there. No one gets upset at the white kids on the lake, because it is assumed they have some sort of right to be there. Nevermind the posted laws and regulations that forbid swimming and skinny-dipping. If they happen to be the sons of the judges or of the county commissioners, then of course nobody’s going to say anything because who wants to mess with a judge?!?!
But when Black people are present, their presence is automatically viewed with suspicion. No one thinks, oh they must be such and such members so just turn the other way. Maybe they are the judges’ kids so just let them be. No, when Black people are present, they receive the tenth degree. Why are you here? You don’t have any business being here. Go away and go back where you belong (wherever that is, since it is assumed they don’t belong here).
There’s a funny thing that happened in real estate in my hometown. See, years ago, before the rich neighborhoods were built, lakes were built. Those lakes were only placed in certain areas of town, far away from the railroad tracks, if you know what I mean. Those lakes were built and aggregated and stocked and the dam was built to keep the waters only in certain locations. And now all the land around those lakes belongs to the wealthy. Classified as “lakefront property,” it gets the biggest draw for the biggest buck. Wealthy folk who want the best school in Guilford County move in there.
Funny thing that the other side of the railroad track doesn’t have a fancy lake, no dam to keep the water in certain places, and no “lakefront properties” to be found over there. And that is where the Black folk must stay. That must be where they “belong.” They aren’t invited to the pool, because they don’t belong at the pool.
So what about this Jesus guy? See, Jesus never bought into an idea that certain people only belonged in certain places. He had this novel idea that even women (who bleed!) belonged in the most holy of holy places, so he ripped the veil. He had a brilliant social structure that put the bottom on the top, and the top on the bottom. The last would come first, the first would come last. Those who lived furthest away from the lake would be the first to claim prime real estate in the new social order.
And then he called for the Kingdom of God to be brought to earth. He called for the last to be first, God’s will, even on earth as it is in Heaven.
So that means all the Black folk, who were denied entry before, now deserve and are owed the same access. So if we aren’t going to bat an eyelash over the white kids crashing the green, we can’t be upset over the Black kids crashing the pool party. Jesus lifted the veil of suspicion over Black bodies, my friends. Black skin is not to be feared, Black persons are not to be kept out.
Jesus invited the tax collector to dinner. I’m sure everyone else was like, But Jesus, I don’t want to sit next to him because he reeks of all the times I had to pay that dude! I pay him my taxes, I don’t eat dinner with him! And Jesus gently reminded everyone that when it is Jesus’ table, all are invited. When the golf course belongs to Jesus, all must be invited. When Jesus runs the pool membership, it’s open day.
We humans don’t feel very safe when all are invited. We are likely to think that the little girl wearing a yellow bikini, must be a very big threat so we must chain her up like the guy in the cemetery. She didn’t belong there, so get her out by any means necessary. By any means necessary. Keep the lines drawn, people, so we can all feel safe. So white people can maintain their property values.
But Jesus called a different social order, my friends. Jesus called a social order such that, when those showed up who didn’t belong, we are called to invite them in. We are called to share our privilege. We are called to roll the red carpet to those who were kept out. We are called to feed those children who showed up, and we are called to make sure they get home safely when the party is over. Calling cops on Black bodies never ensures anyone gets home safely, of this we can be assured.
How can Christians be peace-keepers and peace-makers? View this incident through a different lens, my friends. Remember your own mischievous self at the tender age of sixteen: new license, new friends, new privileges that you were eager to see just how far you could bend the rules. Let me show you where the white kids go to break the rules and let me show you how many rules they can break in one weekend, without ever getting caught. And then remember that the uninvited ones, the ones we kept out, are precisely the ones Jesus invites in. May we open doors, rather than call cops. May we extend generosity and friendship, rather than police. May we make dignity, rather than humiliation and escalation, the mark of the Kingdom.