Ten miles from my house, in my county, the young mother of a 6-year-old boy is on edge right now because she got a note at her door threatening to murder her if she dares to go outside. It’s signed Ku Klux Klan, with a crude swastika. And I have no doubt that the threat to her is real. This is a pretty county; healthiest in the state. And – though most of us are welcoming – the racism is real here. I know this place.
I moved to Hunterdon County in my early 20’s, from richly diverse places, including Brooklyn and the Detroit burbs. I knew Hunterdon was, as Ron Kuby puts it, Whitelandia – even more then than now. But I was looking for a house that needed what I knew how to do, to live in, then sell. I found perfect little houses – in High Bridge, and in Flemington.
High Bridge house was a honey, needed roofing, painting and only minimal plumbing (which I’m bad at). But I didn’t buy it. I had a Jewish boyfriend and black friends, and I heard from several locals that High Bridge was where the KKK was. I bought Flemington. And my first month, out walking with the boyfriend, we found a crude, ugly cartoon – pasted with some monster glue to the Historic Courthouse flagpole and signed “KKK.”
Since then, I’ve seen – and all much more recently: local Republicans elected on blatantly anti-brown people lit; a car rear-ended because a driver was staring at a black family was walking down Main Street; a Facebook group freak out because a Hispanic-owned grocery was opening; plans to “make English the official language” of Flemington; a councilman refusing to light a park basketball court “because that would bring the element.” My county also has a vibrant anti-racism group, an arts collective run by young adults who dared to post BLACK LIVES MATTER in their window, and a social justice theater group that performs works written with incarcerated women.
Point is, there’s good here, too. But – I have a responsibility to remember the bad falls very unequally here. There’s a young mom who’s got racist idiots after her – and that would not happen to me. I need to think about how to let this mom know she’s not alone. News12 (2 minutes):