To whom is this street closed?
By Jayson Boyd
As part of their “Stay Healthy” streets program, the Seattle Department of Transportation has closed the street in front of my house. Only, it isn’t really closed. There is only slightly less traffic than normal, despite the signs at either end of the block that say explicitly, “STREET CLOSED”. I’ve watched numerous cars approach the corner, take a look to see what’s going on, and after seeing that everything appears normal, they simply drive right past the sign and the orange cone.
If you’re unfamiliar with the program, SDOT is closing streets to give folks the extra space to walk, run, bike, etc. while continuing to practice social distancing. I’d agree that it’s kind of a corny idea, but what’s it hurting, really? There are perfectly good streets to drive your car or truck one block to either side of my street. Whether traveling east or west, you’ve got options.
When I first noticed the signs, I suspected they were there as part of the program (confirmed the next day when signs made specifically for the program were affixed to the metal signs), and I was excited at the prospect of having a reprieve from the traffic on what is usually a particularly busy residential street. I should’ve known better.
Most of us simply aren’t used to having to sacrifice anything, and, all too often, any restrictions are blown off with an attitude of, “That restriction doesn’t apply to me.” As I watch an SUV blow past, I can almost hear the driver say, “Whomever placed that sign there obviously didn’t know that I’d be going to Target today.” Ultimately, the inconvenience of having to drive an extra block cannot be tolerated.
The entitlement is real.
Us white people don’t have a monopoly on this way of thinking, but, collectively, we are the absolute worst. We expect to be able to go anywhere and do virtually anything we want, and if anyone calls us out on it, we are quick to play the victim. And this isn’t a liberal or conservative thing, we all do it. Whether it’s showing up to a capitol building dressed in tactical gear and sporting a rifle, knowing full well black and brown people couldn’t do the same, or asking to speak to the manager because a line employee won’t bend the rules for us, it all looks pretty much the same.
We’re all very aware of what we can and cannot get away with. We begin learning these things very early in life, we never really stop, and it’s almost entirely learned through experience. But we all have unique experiences in life, and thus, very different perceptions of what’s acceptable behavior.
I understand how the privilege given to us because of the color of our skin could be a difficult thing to grasp. We’ve always had it, we didn’t have to ask for it, and we can’t stop it if we tried. Even if you make a conscious effort to be aware of it, you’re going to miss nearly every instance of it. All the same, it’s important to know your privilege, and maybe more importantly, to know that not everyone possesses the same.
Having attended Garfield High School in the ‘90s, I frequented Ezell’s Famous Chicken across the street from campus. The restaurant itself looks similar now to how it did then, but there’s a noticeable difference in the number of white customers these days. The demographics of the Central District have changed, so it makes sense. White folks are venturing into areas they mostly avoided before. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With the help of a new customer base, Ezell’s has grown to fifteen locations. But this freedom of movement should go both ways.
It might be easy to say that the murder of a 25-year-old black man who was simply jogging in a predominantly white neighborhood in Georgia, by two white men who claimed he fit the description of a burglar, is far removed from us here in Seattle. It’s easy to brush it off as just a “southern issue”. But black and brown people are treated with a similar suspicion here; and suspicion, and especially fear, can easily lead to a wrongful death.
It is a privilege I have, despite doing nothing to have earned it, that I, as a white man, have never had to get up in the morning and ever wonder how the color of my skin might negatively affect me. This should be the case for everyone.
So the photo-which shows street closure-lesds one to believe that the article would have something to do with that-instead it is all over the places -devolves into a piece on entitlement by white people-ends with murder of Ahmaud Arbery .
If you want to write/run a piece on white entitlement-have the guts to title it accordingly.
We were there yesterday, and this is the take you had? It’s great that you jump to the usual tropes of racism, class divide and white guilt. How about looking beyond your own blinders as a liberal? As we rode through with my family on bikes, we were almost hit by an Indian family in a bmw, and a Hispanic man in a Jeep. So.....guess a white guy almost getting hit doesn’t count. That road needs to stay open because it’ is a thru way from the light house besides the point the street is a street. Those homes knew that when the bought the places. Moving in and advocating for special circumstances like closing the street for your personal convenience is nuts. Akin the moving next to a school and then getting mad when lights are on. This piece is unwarranted and ridiculous.
What an odd letter to go with the photo and title.
Why isn't this posted where is should be...at the 'Opinion' tab?
You are right. We made the correction
Many times, on walks or a run on Beach Drive (where it is now closed for a block), I have had to walk in the street due to the cluster of people blocking the sidewalk standing around getting high. With people self distancing it truly has become a much more dangerous situation as we are all forced into the street. Considering the congestion and distractions occurring in the one block with all the cars trying to careen around bike's, parked cars, pedestrians, and peoples pets it's best to limit the cars on the road at this time. However, the signage needs to be placed before the closure. I live on Alki and the amount of cars blocking traffic to make U-turns is dangerous and unnecessary. Give the drivers the opportunity to turn off Alki before they are upon the closure or their only option is to continue through the closed road, or make these hazardous U-turns.
yup they have the streets blocked on east union I have 2 apartments on both sides of the street to check on if Seattle PD tells me I can't park there ill ask for a card and give it to both mgrs and let them know I can't check there property's
I don't know if this is a troll article meant to rile people up, or if you actually believe this is good journalism(it's not, it's horrible). First, you state that we are privileged because we don't want to detour around a street that says it's closed even though technically it's not. The problem with your statement is you are wrong. The privileged and selfish people are the ones who live on these streets and think their street should be closed but that it's fine that their neighbors who live a block away will now have to deal with double or triple the traffic because cars will be detouring onto their street. How is that fair? Then somehow you turned this into a race thing and shamed yourself for being white and you also lied while doing it. You stated that armed white men were at the Capitol building in Michigan with tactical gear and guns knowing full well that black people couldn't do the same. Well, actually this week a group of black and latino men were at the capital in Michigan in tactical gear and with guns and nothing happened. I'm sorry you feel so bad about being white and your wokeness won't allow you to be proud of who you are. Maybe one day when you grow up you'll realize what a fool you were at this point in your life and it will make you a better writer
So if I'm not white it's cool if I keep using this road then,? Cool! I'll be sure to let all my friends know it only counts as entitlement if your white and we can do what we want. Preach on white man.
To the author: thanks for bringing this up. I agree 100%.
Everyone else: I didn't know West Seattle was so ugly.
Thank you. this piece is spot on. More and more, we Caucasians have to stand on the side of people of color no matter what. Justice should be color bind and sadly in this country that continues to not be the case in many instances. Too bad my fellow Caucasian haters feel compelled to continue to display this tone deaf privilege.
Maybe try data to support your argument, 2% of Seattle commutes via bike yet us disabled have to deal with even more bike lanes for those priveleged enough to choose leisure as their transportation means. Also not everyone can afford to live close enough for bikes to be reasonable.
Why would someone pull the race card in an article about the street closures?!?