Two days before Christmas I came home one afternoon to find a swastika drawn on the small wooden table next to my front door. It had been drawn in yellow chalk, the same chalk I keep in a box on that table for Annika to draw on the concrete with.
Completely out of character, I didn’t even contemplate the drawing, but quickly ran inside to get a sponge and wipe it clean. I told myself that it was just some punk kids. Surely it didn’t mean anything. I am surprised at myself that I didn’t stop to take a picture.
As a writer, I document things. Even during events where my mind should be elsewhere, I will stop to think about how I would describe the scene. I’ve done this during mind-blowing sex. I did it during labor. I even took a picture of the placenta after Annika was born.
But anyway, yeah, somebody drew a swastika on my table with my 2-year-old’s chalk that we use to draw hopscotch and hearts on the cement with.
With last minute preparations before the holiday, I didn’t give it another thought until it just popped out of my mouth the next day as I found myself mentioning it to Toyin. He agreed that it was probably just stupid kids being mean.
Then Christmas night as Annika sat in the bathtub, playing with her new Elmo and Ernie submarine toy, it hit me. Nazis hate mixing of the races. I began to wonder, was the swastika meant to send a message? Surely not, I told myself. It was just kids.
That swastika may or may not have meant anything. But the idea of it meaning something hateful eroded a tiny hole in my feeling of safety in the world. It’s a feeling I’ve never really felt, as a white person.
I waited so long to post this because I didn’t want it to be this overblown thing or sound like I’m freaked out and scared for my life. I am not.
I have no idea what it meant or who did it. But what I thought was important to share was the uncertainty it brought. It was not an overt threat. Nothing has happened since then, and I don’t expect it to. But what I thought was important to share was the feeling of uncertainty about the possibility that there is someone nearby who might hate me simply for what I, and my daughter, look like together. That’s something, like I said before, and bears repeating, that I’ve never felt as a white person.