Restricted Spaces

So busy really isn’t the word that I would use to say just how much work has been on my plate.  I think the better word is preoccupied. To be specific, I’ve been preoccupied with papers that are necessary for me to graduate from this institution.  I’ve also been preoccupied with trying to get in applications and do stuff that will make my post-graduate life a success.  So to answer any questions about my lack of blogging, that’s what really has been going on.

This meant that I was unable to blog about the “Fallacy of the Seven Last Words” and pose the blogging question “What Does the Resurrected Jesus Mean to Black People.”  Let alone address the various pop culture issues that have beset our lives over the past weeks most importantly weighing in on the whole Erykah Badu music video “Window Seat” to Obama now having to worry about picking yet another Supreme Court Justice. However, I felt I must take time to blog about the “restricted spaces” that I encountered over the last week.

As me and one of my friends walked up to the AUC’s Club Woody Woodruff Library we were required to show our school IDs in the middle of the day.  I had already done my eye rolling before we got in, but seriously, I have a problem when I’m asked for ID.  This goes for in the grocery store and I use my debit card or even the random once or twice I was walking up through Clark Atlanta’s campus and I was stopped.  But the library is about the epitome of “what the hell are we doing here?”

So I showed my ID and this particular security guard thought it was okay to tell me that I need to get a new ID because mine was so faded even though I had the proper sticker on the back.  I muttered something about maybe they shouldn’t have made the cards so cheap.  And this is true, I still have my ID from my undergraduate school and it’s not faded and I had to use that one like three times a day to swipe to get into the cafeteria.  And even above that when I took a class at the University of Chicago back in 2000-01, that card looks brand new and it’s almost ten years old!

But I knew he was going to let me in.

But my friend for some reason didn’t have the sticker on the back of his card.  And the security guard wanted to give him all kinds of grief for not having it.  And I simply said, “Well he’s with me can’t we go in” and the guard proceeded to go on and on lecturing my friend.

I was really ready to go off: either let us in or don’t!  We have business to attend to and you’re holding up the progress!

The guard let him in.

I told my friend, better him than me because I probably wouldn’t have been let in because I wouldn’t have said the right thing.  And that’s probably true.  I fail to see the point of a library–at an HBCU–being a restricted space.

This process was repeated again after we took a lunch break and came back my friend left his ID completely.  I don’t see how my brother was so absent-minded, but I guess that’s a whole ‘nother situation.  But as our luck would have it, the same security guard was there.  And he gave him yet another lecture.  I actually went outside to sit down and wait for my friend to walk all the way down the hill and back up again because I just knew the guard wasn’t going to let us in.  I had already heard part of the lecture that what if someone had planned to blow up the library and they had no record of him being there…

…sir? Really? That was your reasoning?  As if you make every person who comes in sign in and sign out.  Just because one has a school ID and you let them in means absolutely nothing.  That was when I walked outside because I just failed to see why are we restricting access to a library?!?!?!

And my furor was all the more compounded when just this Friday night me and five other classmates decided to go up to Emory University to study because the AUC Woodruff library closed at 6pm on Fridays and according to the online schedule, Emory’s Woodruff Library was open 24 hrs. beginning that night.  We got there and the library had been closed since 8pm and it was 8:30.  Well, our merry band of graduating seniors had planned to do an all night study session for Friday night and now we had nowhere to go, because of course on our campus everything was shut down.  So we actually found a classroom building that was all the way open and went downstairs and found an open classroom and studied from 9pm until 5:30 am with no real break.

So already I had experienced one area with restricted spaces and another area without them.

Then came Saturday morning.

I forgot that rehearsal at CAU had been moved up to 11:30 and I woke up late and was rushing to get ready, so after they had closed Brawley Avenue following the murder of Jasmine Lynn on CAU’s campus, and after I was forced to meander through the side streets of the West End behind the library and behind the Morehouse Suites, I come a big orange barrier and some flashlight cop was sitting under the shade and stopped me asking where I was going…

Wait. Stop. You’re actually blocking off a side street that’s headed to a library and other student housing?

…and I said I’m headed to Davage auditorium I have rehearsal.  And he said I’d have to park in the visitor parking lot.  I responded, even though I park around this corner here every friggin’ weekend!?!?  And he responded “Not this weekend.”

And my mind went, Ohh, yeah, this city and Clark Atlanta decided to spend money on a Freaknik that was an EPIC FAIL by all accounts and most certainly never made it’s way to the AUC.  So at 12 noon, when there were no cars or anyone on the streets, my access was restricted.

Seriously, I take a practical approach to many instances and those above run-ins just simply were NOT practical.  I think I was further infuriated because it seemed that my access was restricted simply because of the color of my skin!  No I’m not alleging racism on behalf of AUC Woodruff library or that of the CAU police, but I do know that if I was a student at Georgia Tech or Emory I wouldn’t have had to experience that.

Personally, I have a problem when we live in a society and we restrict access to libraries.  I mean I really think that says something about us as a culture.  I thought the policy was that during business hours opening to about 5 or 6pm the library was open to the public.  I could understand having an ID policy after that, especially seeing as how our library is not on a closed campus per se.  But neither is Emory’s.  It’s not like at Dillard University where one has to show ID just to enter the campus.  And even at both of my undergraduate schools, ID was not required to enter the library.

Moreover, at least here in the AUC, the police went through great lengths shutting down PUBLIC streets for the sake of a non-existent Freaknik!  Me and my friend were coming from R. Thomas’ off of Peachtree and at 2 in the morning, there was a random guard sitting outside alone on Beckwith in front of an orange barrier.  Hell, a random cluck crackhead from around the corner was more susceptible to knocking him over than some Freaknik revelers!

I said all this to say that far too often we restrict ourselves given some of our actions.

Because of the mere threat of Freaknik, the city shut down the whole west side of Atlanta and the AUC felt compelled to be on lockdown.  All because of the actions of people ten years ago.  For that weekend, I felt more comfortable in rich Decatur on Emory’s campus than I did around my own people and my own culture.  I think an even sadder indictment is that most people went about life as usual and didn’t give the restrictions a second thought.  A true mark of dehumanization is when those people are being restricted accept their bondage and restriction as normative and even necessary.

Am I going to protest this? No. Is it even worth me protesting? Maybe.  Am I going to roll over and just “carefully choose my battles”? I already have.

Yes, this is more of a venting situation than anything else, especially because those restrictions are but a distant memory already, nonetheless, I will remain a malcontent over such issues.  I mean, at least have some feeling or some reaction to it.  Don’t just roll over and play dead about the situation.  As long as we’re content with living in restricted spaces, we’ve lost the battle.

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

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4 responses to “Restricted Spaces

  1. Are these some of the ‘Do Not Enter’ signs leftover from jim crow programming (rogue viral infection that destroys the host and those in the vicinity) that we as a people will create restrictions where none exist?

    Well deserved venting.

    Hang in there, Uppity…keep thinking and writing.

    • @Marbles

      I remember being a kid and having to pass through Atlanta with my parents en route to Disney World and they were worried about having to deal with Freaknikers. Nothing per se happened any differently, but seriously, it was so many people here it shut the entire west side of the city down. So the city put sanctions on meeting places and what not.

      Like Freaknik was never “official” like a normal event or even like the Gay Pride events, it kinda just happened every year around the same time. And if you 200,000 18-30 year olds in the same space your going to have problems–and I’m sure it didn’t help that they were black kids on top of that.

  2. At first I just thought this was a really long venting session….but I get your point about people restricted accepting their bondage, our culture has become very accepting of restrictions that are placed in our life….i appreciate what you write, it gives me something to think about

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