Symbols of Black Lives Matter and the “Black Panther” movie on Hubert Roberts’ truck made it a target for vandals on Juneteenth in Clio, Mich. The N-word was painted in white on one side, “Wite Pride” on the other side, swastikas spread around, tires slashed and red shoelaces hung from his mirrors, an old KKK tactic.
Roberts, 62, who lives in a predominantly white neighborhood, told the Free Press that he was in disbelief and disappointed. He endures slurs and spits while protesting but didn’t expect it at home. Roberts called the attack “another example of hatred toward a person for nothing more than being Black.”
One neighbor alerted him to the vandalism, and cars drove by apologizing and saying that it wasn’t reflective of what the neighborhood stands for.
Mixed neighborhoods between Blacks and whites are still the minority in this country, and segregation is common. And while studies show that Blacks don’t self-segregate, white people do, and they want a specific kind of diversity — half white with a myriad of minorities being the other half (not just Black).
Gregory Smithsimon, associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and the CUNY Graduate Center, wrote in a recent column that there’s a strong safety component for Blacks in choosing where they live.
“Anyone who lives in a black neighborhood can name nearby white neighborhoods with reputations for intolerance, prejudice and violence where they’d rather not go,” he said.
Crimes against Blacks living in white neighborhoods or even passing through neighborhoods is not a new phenomenon. Historically white resentment of growing Black populations has resulted in fatal violence against Black residents. Despite the increase in diversity in the country, not everyone is ready for a mixed neighborhood.
An investigation into this incident by the Vienna Township Police Department is underway and a reward has been offered by the Michigan chapter of the civil rights and advocacy organization Council on American-Islamic Relations.