Life in sunny Tucson is good. I’m sunny most of the time but shit happens that’s hard to take. What I wanted to write about today was last weekend’s stimulating, fun Tucson Festival of Books; finding my mother-of-the-groom dress in Berkeley a few weeks ago; or reading “Breaking Stalin’s Nose,” a terrific middle-grade chapter book by Eugene Yelchin.
Instead, I’m concerned about the perversion of my beloved 14th Amendment. (I hoped my high school U.S. history students would always remember its meaning: Equal Protection under the Law. It was the most important amendment, I told them, and if in 30 years we ran into each other walking down the street, “Blurt it out.”)
My recurring concern hit me this morning, although it was one of my typical sunny days.
I needed a pedicure. A friend was having a ladies’ birthday luncheon at the Westward Look. My chipped turquoise nails looked crappy.
Luckily, Melissa at Nails2GoGo could schedule an appointment for me at 9 a.m. Melissa is a smart, gritty single mother who works six days a week to support five kids. She used to work two jobs — one as a nail technician and one as a smartphone technician. Now that Melissa has only one job she smiles more and seems less tired whenever I show up for my monthly pedicure.
Melissa and I talk about real stuff, except when I check out for one of her fantastic foot massages. Her hands are strong, like her. I respect her stamina and cannot fathom how she works so hard.
Today Melissa tells me that her 18-year-old son received a police citation for walking in the street instead of on the existing sidewalk. “It’s ironic that there is no sidewalk in our neighborhood,” she says.
On the day of the incident Melissa had just returned home from a long day of work. She saw the police in front of her house. When she got out of her car one of Tucson’s finest directed her to go inside, but she refused.
Her son will have to appear in court. I wish a local attorney would take this on-the-surface ludicrous case, argue it in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Oh, did I mention that Melissa’s son is black? No matter what your socioeconomic status, if you’re the President of the United States or the son of a New York Times columnist who’s a student at Yale, or an 18-year-old high school student wrestler — if you’re a black male in the so-called land of the free, Beware.
Dammit. This isn’t right.