Back at the tag-end of May, I was driving in downtown San Antonio when there were counter-protests going on. I drove right by a group of armed white men being escorted down the damn sidewalk by police. Then I saw a phalanx of San Antonio Police officers in full riot gear.
I freaked out as I got my passengers then got the hell out of there.
That night, some windows were broken in downtown and again, I freaked out.
I had no need to do that. I had no need to feed the fear that broken glass creates because it’s not fear that breaks that glass, but misplaced anger and rage. And in the case of the broken glass in downtown San Antonio, most of the people doing it weren’t from here (see group of ‘armed white men’).
Broken glass can be swept up. Windows can be boarded up. Windows can be replaced. And most of all, truth can be had over fear.
So many people equate speaking out against injustice, hate, murder, and poverty as it leading to broken glass. It doesn’t. What leads to broken glass is peaceful protest being met with violence, and outside agitators as they’re called doing the damage.
People said this past summer the cities were burning, just like it was said they were in the 1960’s and 1970’s. They aren’t. Yes, cities are scarred, tired, and worn down. But that doesn’t mean they’re for the taking just because some motherfucker decides they want this city and this property for themselves and to hell with anyone who is already living there, and has been living there for decades.
In my three-and-a-half years as an Uber driver, I’ve been in every part of San Antonio. I have been in some of its’ wealthiest enclaves full of houses that are beautiful masterpieces of architectural design with lush green lawns and gardens that are massive explosions of color. And I’ve been in some of the poorest parts of the city, where the houses are old and not built for beauty, where there isn’t a lot green, or color. But those poor old houses have just as many stories as those mansions, and those stories are worth fighting for.
I’ve driven by old buildings that have been empty for years and yes, some of them have broken windows. But I don’t fear those broken windows. I see an old building with history, and with enough love and money that could be brought back to life.
Whenever I hear bullshit arguments against affordable housing in wealthier areas, whenever I hear the ‘not in my backyard’ shit, I just think one thing: you’ve never seen, nor heard the sound of breaking glass. And in all likelihood, you never will. I’ve only heard glass breaking when hail shattered the windows in my apartment a few years back and yes, it scared the shit out of me. The sound of breaking glass isn’t like the movies, nor does glass shatter like it does in the movies either (in real life, glass breaks into razor-sharp pieces both big and small that can cut you all to hell).
But when you see nothing but broken glass and not the truth behind it, and embrace the fear-mongering behind that, I think that makes you a part of the problem and not the solution. If you walk away from broken glass without fixing it, if you walk away from a tired, old place, you’re walking away from a problem that you and I need to start fixing once and for all.
What will fix broken glass?
Hope put into action by hard work to improve the lives of those in need. To not run from poverty and injustice but face those things head-on and work for solutions. To undo fear-mongering and gaslighting. To believe in kindness, compassion, and empathy for all people.
I tell myself not to fear the broken glass, but to learn the truth behind it. Then work my ass off to help repair it, and replace it with something better.
For I will say this here: if someone wants you to fear more than hope, ask yourself why.