I live in North Myrtle Beach and was going to stay silent on the three murders and seven shootings in Myrtle Beach during Memorial Day Weekend known here as Black Bike Week—officially known as Atlantic Beach Bike Week.
I was going to stay silent as I have only lived here for five years. I’m a Northern agnostic Jewish liberal in an area where most people are staunch conservative Christians. I like most of the people I have met and didn’t want to rock the boat.
But what happens here concerns me. I own a house a few blocks from the beach. Like most people I care about the area I live in and want it to be the best it can be so I’m involved in a few civic projects. I find it exciting that here one person can make a difference.
In this whole crazy week I haven’t heard one person say “these were shootings. Guns were used.” I understand that people love that Second Amendment here. I also understand there comes a time when people have to talk about responsible gun ownership–and an NRA class doesn’t do it. I believe in zero tolerance for guns but I understand that’s impossible here.
I’m not denying the murders and shootings nor in anyway condoning them. Trashy people got drunk (the other elephant nobody talks about.) When liquor and guns are mixed together….
People begin talking months before Black Bike Week about how out of control it will be. How the NAACP forced stores and restaurants to open. How great Harley Week, which is about two weeks before, is. Harley Week is also known as White Bike Week. Nothing bad ever happens during Harley Week because you know…..
Actually there are more planned activities. There are signs welcoming Harley drivers everywhere. It’s very different when you’re actively welcomed somewhere than when you know people are going to diss you.
For years it’s seemed to me that all this talk is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Expect the worst and the worst will happen.
I’m from New York. In 1977 there was a serial killer on the loose, a bad heat wave and one hell of a blackout. Books and movies have shown the looting and more. What they don’t show is what happened 26 years later when another large blackout happened. I was at the end of Brooklyn that day with a friend. We found a bus and rode–we probably would have gone anywhere.
We drove through the same neighborhoods that had been looted during the ’77 blackout. People were standing in the middle of the street directing traffic. Others were giving out water. It didn’t matter what color you are. It mattered that you didn’t become dehydrated (more health conscious population than in ’77) and got safely home.
Yes, we had been through the worst not quite two years earlier. If a terrorist attack didn’t destroy us a blackout–pish nothing. Really nothing.
I’m not saying what happened in Myrtle Beach was the same but it was analogous. We were prepared for that blackout. After the 1977 blackout many people worked very hard on establishing good relationships between the races and other groups. It didn’t happen overnight and New York’s far from perfect.
The mayors of Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach met with Governor Haley this past Friday. She said that Black Bike Week had to end. Where I come from we would never let a governor make a decision a mayor is supposed to make.
They were hiding behind the governor rather than make a decision that might make anybody unhappy. That wasn’t a decision as much as an ultimatum. What does that do? What does that teach people? To run from a problem rather than try and solve it?
I don’t know what the long term solution is. I know if race relationships aren’t addressed they will become worse. I know that banning Black Bike Week is the first step to not letting people into the lunch counters. Banning never works and usually serves to make the problem worse. Or maybe I have history wrong and prohibition was a flaming success.
I spend a lot of time talking up the people here. My New York and Atlanta friends look at me as if I’ve totally lost my mind and say “bless your heart Pia, you’re such a crazed optimist.” Actually they say worse.
I am an optimist. I believe people can live in harmony without incident. It takes work. It takes meetings between the races. It takes people yelling and screaming at each other until it’s all out in the open and not glossed over. We can photoshop all we want but reality remains reality.
I want to continue living here. I want a social life. But I can’t remain quiet on a subject that means so much to me.
And people who cancelled their reservations for this summer were reacting to the way everything was handled.
Hysteria breeds hysteria.
Addendum: In one of the many versions of this I wrote about how North Myrtle Beach had 300 cops while Myrtle Beach had 400 cops. Only Myrtle Beach has at least triple the population we have–and I have no idea how many tourists.
There was very little crime in North Myrtle Beach. I lost this as my server went down before I had time to back it up and forgot to put it back in. Mea Culpa