On April 17th, 2018 a wind storm blazed through Colorado, with winds reaching 50 to 90 miles per hour. The wind was so powerful it uprooted trees, knocked down light poles, caused roofs to come off, and trampolines to fly. When I drove through our neighborhood almost every one of my neighbors’ fences had come tumbling down, because of the gusts. When I got home that afternoon my kids were upset, there was a cop car parked in front of the house and my husband was visibly emotional. My first reaction was something serious had happened, so naturally, my heart sank. I ran up to the house and as I got closer I could hear the officer apologizing that he was unable to do anything, and we needed to wait until the wind died down. I waited impatiently for the officer to leave, once he did my husband took me to the backyard and showed me that our children’s trampoline had flown over into our neighbors’ yard. I was confused as to why we weren’t just waiting for the wind to die down and getting our property back. My husband, through obvious frustrations, explained that he had seen the wind lift the trampoline up into the air despite it being staked down, and tossed it onto our adjoining fence with the neighbors to the south of our home. Before my husband could reach the fence and the dangling trampoline our neighbor yanked the trampoline over the fence and into his yard. When my husband attempted to speak to him he got combative, so my husband called the police to mediate the conversation. A very simple conversation to return our children’s toy was turned into a debate on whether our trampoline had destroyed his flagpole. If we wanted our property back, we needed to either give him our renters/home insurance information or an agreement to pay for the repairs of his pole; which was going to be $1400.
Several weeks passed by, and through several unfavorable interactions with our neighbor, our trampoline still sat mangled and torn just feet away from its place in our yard. Looking out our windows seeing our property sitting in another yard has been hard for our children because they don’t understand why we can’t just have it back. We explained to them that some people harbor hateful feelings in their hearts, and because of that they do ugly things to others.
My husband posted an ad on an app called “Nextdoor” looking for a used trampoline or one that was for sale. He explained the situation and the support our family received has been nothing short of incredible. We were approached by a journalist for CBS Local News station asking to do a story on what’s happened. With great honor, we agreed to an interview with CBS Mark Neitro and Dominic Garcia. After interviewing my family they went next door to get the neighbors’ perspective. Every story has two sides and naturally, they deserve an opportunity to speak for themselves and their intentions. Our neighbor was as condescending and rude to the journalists as he was to us. But one comment he made has struck a nerve; not only with us but with the community as well. Our neighbor said, that “if we had acted like a white person he would have given it back to us…”
We are baffled as a family. We live in a nice suburban neighborhood, and we’ve never caused them or anyone any harm or nuance. We had no idea that for the last three years we’ve been living next to a family that harbors hate for us because of our races. My husband is Hispanic and I am African American-Caucasian, and as a family, we don’t act outside of being good citizens. So to accuse us of not acting like a particular race, and because of it, hold our property hostage, is cruel and ignorant. This speaks to the culture of our society today. People are having to fight against good, bad and the ugly because of race. Whether they deserve it or not, people who carry racism in their hearts place others in categories based on skin color, culture, and beliefs, and then treat them according to those factors. So whether this man, our neighbor, believes he is justified, because we are not white this gives him and his wife the right to keep our property and treat us unfairly.
We aren’t raising our children to see color, nor associate with a belief system that anyone is better than any other. This circumstance is helping reinforce our belief system that there is ugly in every nationality. Not only that, it’s also showing our children that there is good in every race too. Since the story aired on CBS on May 2nd, 2018, a woman who has requested to remain anonymous has agreed to buy our family a brand new trampoline and have it shipped to our home. Our children are ecstatic to know that they will have a shiny new trampoline in the backyard again real soon. As a family, we are thrilled to have been supported by so many. As a society, racism is unacceptable. But we know its an issue and it may always be an issue. But as long as a community we rise up together and speak to peace, love, and harmony, I believe that it washes out the ignorant and ugly.
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