So, I've moved to a lovely duplex, and we are lucky enough to have terrific neighbors. They are quiet, they don't smoke, and when they play loud music, which is seldom, they play music I like. Also, they're nice people - they let me use their washer when mine wasn't working, their little girl is very sweet to Bean, and I've had several nice chats with them. They are also clean freaks and they put me to shame (I was just down there, and I feel like I need to clean the house again, even though I just cleaned it yesterday).
Our landlord, however, does not treat them very well. When I moved in, Landlord told me, with her hand held to her mouth to indicate that she was telling me a secret, that they were Black.
We all know what this means, right? When someone tells you in a stage whisper or in some other way that communicates pretend secrecy that someone is Black (or gay, or whatever), what they're really saying is, "and you know how they are." Or, "watch out - we're likely to have a problem." Or, when it comes from a landlord, "let me know if there are any problems."
And, sure enough, Landlord has not been as receptive to their requests for repairs and maintenance as she appears to be to mine. Now, it's true, I don't call her nearly as much as they do, and they have a lot more complaints than I do. But even so, it's not like they don't have valid concerns. And it's disturbing that they can call a number of times because their washer is acting up and get no response, but I can call once about my washer and have the maintenance guy over to fix it the next day.
This is a pretty clear example of white privilege, isn't it? Especially because I would have been totally unaware of it had I not struck up a friendship with the neighbors, had they not informed me of their unanswered calls.
The question has been what to do - how do we handle this situation? For the moment, I've called to report the things that they're concerned about - to work the system, in other words. But it doesn't feel right to either of us. On the other hand, challenging the landlord doesn't feel like a very productive move (for either of us), either.
What would you do?