Let me begin by saying that everything is fine. The threat was only perceived, no real.
So, here's the story.
On Monday, when I picked up the mail, there was a playing card in the mailbox. A Barack and Michelle Obama playing card, the ace of spades. I thought this was odd and wondered what was going on. Bud, who must have been reading about mushrooms, told me it could be laced with mushroom bits that would seep in my skin and kill me. Huh. Of course, then I thought of the anthrax scare in the mail that killed a woman here in Connecticut after September 11th. But Bud didn't know any of that. Still, I laughed and put the card in the recycling.
On Tuesday, I came home from taking the kids to the doctor for vaccinations and noticed the flag on the mailbox was up, which I would swear it hadn't been when I left. There, inside, was another playing card. Barack and Michelle Obama, king of spades. What the hell was this? Who was leaving these? What did it mean? We've lived here 15 years, have had no trouble with the neighbors. But, when I posted my question to FB, most of my friends encouraged me to call the police and the postmaster, viewing it, like I did, in a suspicious light. It wasn't kids--kids were at school during the day. Why spades? The ace of spades, I learned quickly, was not only a racial slur but a folkloric indication of death. Was it a countdown, from aces to king to . . . ? What would happen at the end of the suit? But why black racism? I would understand something to do with our being lesbians and a bi-racial Chinese-Caucasian family, but spades? Was it a general comment on our being Democrats? Only people who know us know that--there were no political signs or bumper stickers outside our house. So, did this person know us? Questions swirled, fears grew. It escalated.
The police came and made a report, also being suspicious and cautious. They handled the playing card very carefully but said there was nothing they could do. Yet. The postmaster was shocked and concerned, promising to alert the postal authorities and our mail carrier. These kind of things often get escalated to the FBI because the mailbox is federal property.
Meanwhile, on FB, concerns and suggestions mounted. Mama came home and installed web cams so we could find out who was leaving the cards. We pondered options, decided not to alert the children that we'd received a second one; we wanted them to feel safe in their own home. I spoke to the school social worker, as a precaution; she was worried. I contacted our minister, who suggested we leave the person a note. I called my parents, who were ready to come at a moment's notice; grateful, Mama and I debated when that would be.
It was a restless evening, though I think we faked it well. Early the next morning, I got a text. A mom had spoken to a child to see if anything odd was in their own mailbox. Like what, the kid wondered. A playing card. Information came out. Two friends on the way to the bus stop. A card found on the way. Placed in our mailbox, because we are the bus stop house, and I didn't notice right away that it was there. Another card the next day, again placed in the mailbox, flag up. I didn't see the flag until later. The mom read the child the riot act, but I was relieved. The friend confirmed it at the bus stop. Two different cards, two different days. An innocent act that sparked a wildfire of anxiety and concern in the dangerous conditions liberals know that we live in. Had we acted too hastily? What if it had not been random and meaningless? When do you know you are in danger? To you risk it, with children? We could have spared ourselves much anxiety if we hadn't worried. What will we do next time?
We were relieved. We told everyone that it was okay. We didn't identify the children. We were just glad.
And yet. This was just a taste of the threats, insinuations, discrimination, prejudice, inequality, and violence that many people in minority and religious groups face now in our country, led by the man who leads our country. We had a whole community of support, here and across several states; we had resources; we had the cooperation of the authorities; we had options. This is privilege. Many aren't so lucky. The mail carrier told me she'd been through a similar incidence with a Muslim family in town receiving threats in the mail. What happened to them, I wonder? And we only had 48 hours of it--long enough for us, and it was innocent--some have a lifetime. This is not the America I want. And so my family will take this opportunity to commit ourselves to those who are threatened, harrassed, intimidated, and hated.