Interesting story of conflict resolution.
|I spent my 7th and 8th grades at Walton Junior High in Compton, California. I was an advanced reader and did well academically. I really enjoyed my science classes - so I joined the science club. The downside of the club was that I had to walk home from school. This is when I had some interesting situations. I will describe one of the events after school herein.
Next to the school was a 4 lane highway. I would generally cross the road and head home. I had a hobson's choice to make. I could try to walk through the gated community or walk on the path between the fence and the highway. I knew that the community was "off limits" except for residents. I was not a resident. But, I was in the white minority as were the residents of the gated community. So I could get away with access most of the time. The residents "kept a look out" after school. Usually I was going home about an hour after school got out.
The day I had my incident someone questioned me about my address. I did not have one - so I had to take the path. As I was walking on the path two black youth were coming towards me. If I went to my right - they moved to their left in front of me. When I moved to my left they moved to their right. I tried to avoid them, but they walked into me. They were commencing to "kick my butt" when something unusual occurred.
Out of nowhere, my defender appeared. He grabbed a shirt front of each and knocked them into each other. Then he said "get outta here". Both of my would be assailants took off running. I knew my defender. His name was Richard Spenser. He was the black squad leader for our double gym class. He was close to six foot tall and built like an 18 year old running back or body builder. He probably did not know my name, but he knew me. I was the shortest kid in the entire school, and I was white - with red hair and freckles to boot.
I was also the kid that most of my peers disliked. I could usually answer any questions the teachers asked. I always got my homework done in class and was allowed to read a book in class. My school was about 70% Black, 25% Hispanic, and 5% Other including white. I'm quite sure that Richard saw the scene developing and felt compassion for me. He came across 4 lanes of traffic to help me. He asked me if I was ok, and I answered yes - thanks to you.
The story could have ended there, but it did not. What happened next began my learning. Richard asked me if I would like to help him deliver papers. I said I would. We crossed the highway and he told me to hop on the back of his bicycle. He had a rear rack with newspaper bags hung on both sides. We rode a block behind the school and entered a nice suburb that I did not know existed. It was like Fontana where my grandparents lived. These were 3 bedroom homes with garages and were landscaped nicely. I did not know that there were middle class black families who lived in nice homes. I took one side of the street and Richard took the other. He would weave back and forth and tell me where to throw the newspapers.
It only took us about a half hour to deliver his route. Richard told me it was faster when he had a helper. Richard took me home on his bike and it was his turn to be surprised. He did not know how bad the houses were run down just a mile and a half from his home. I lived where the majority of residents were renting. I think he was also surprised to see all the ethnic diversity in my block. He paid me fifty cents for helping. This was a tidy sum for our short job. I usually earned twenty five cents for working six hours in the corner store. I learned a lot from my experience after school about people, compassion, and life.