The truth comes out

In the last few days, I’ve heard two stories of friendships tested or lost because of racists who usually know better than to express their views directly who were driven to do so by the imminent possible election of Barack Obama.
In the first instance, one of the members of my mother-in-law’s long-standing bunco group was ranting yesterday about electing a black man as president. My mother-in-law, the only liberal in the group, was quite shocked both by the expressed racism and by the passivity or agreement of the other group members.
In the other instance, a woman in our neighborhood who is a vocal Obama supporter was told that a group of her friends had been mocking her “gay-and-black loving” beliefs behind her back. When she confronted one of the offenders the primary offender, the woman tried to play it all down she admitted that she didn’t like Obama because of his race. The Obama supporter told my wife that she chose to end the friendship than to remain friends with a hypocritical racist.
This is a sad state of affairs.
UPDATE: My wife received and forwarded to me the email from the Obama supporter herself. I’ve corrected one line above based on first-hand info in the email. Another point in the email is the irony that Pflugerville is probably the most racially diverse suburb in the Austin area, with a high percentage of African-Americans. The racists seem to be living in the wrong neighborhood.

The death of neighborliness

Our son’s elementary school is only about three blocks away, and there is a crossing guard at the big intersection. He’s in third grade, but we still walk him at least partway because of the traffic on a side street that he has to cross (without a crossing guard). The danger in crossing this side street is caused mostly by the large number of other elementary school parents who who park in the side street in order to let their kids out or to walk them from there to the school. Because of this, there a lot of cars turning each way into and out of this street before and after school.
One woman frequently parks right smack in the crossing zone (which is not marked as a crosswalk), so that we have to walk around her car to cross the street. Yesterday, she pulled in right in front of us, so when I got across the street, I came around to the passenger side of her car and made the ‘roll down your window’ signal. Instead of doing so, she assumed what I wanted to say and pulled out to find another parking space.
Today, she was parked very close to the crossing zone. We didn’t have to go around her car, but having it right there just adds to the visual clutter of the already busy intersection. She was helping her kids out of the car as we crossed the street.
I came over to her and asked, “Excuse me, ma’am, could you please not park your car right here?” She came around to the back and noted that she was not actually in our way, to which I responded, “Yes, I understand, but I feel that it makes this intersection more dangerous to have cars parked so close to the crossing zone.
She rolled her eyes at me and went back to her kids. I was so shocked at her blowing me off that I uttered a profanity that didn’t help the problem.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about why her response upset me so much. I came to the following conclusion: I assumed that the fact that she lives in the neighborhood and that her kids go to the same school resulted in some sort of neighborly connection between us, even if we don’t exactly know each other, and that that connection would lead her to at least make an effort to be polite and pretend to show understanding for my concern.
I guess my assumption was incorrect. And that makes me sad.
And I’m even sadder when I think about the future. Because she didn’t even feel the need to pretend to understand, there will be tension every time she and I cross paths. Plus, I’ll probably escalate my concerns to the city: asking the to come a few mornings and monitor the parking and traffic around this intersection.