Imperfect Paradise



I don’t ever remember being sad on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It is a great reminder to be grateful for the human rights he stood for and to live in a time where I have had the opportunity to get a first class education and live a few steps from breathtaking beaches.

The love of my life, Jay Hawkins, came in the door this morning of our Laguna Beach home with not his normal smile, but with sad eyes. On his daily morning walk, in a spot where he pauses on Coast Highway to breath in the ocean, he was stopped by a Laguna Beach police officer, who called in two others because they didn’t believe this 6’4” black man in a jogging suit lived here and something must be amiss.

A recent Virginia transplant, Jay told me how happy he was with his new home of Laguna Beach, where he has chatted with an officer on his walk before, and people let him be — unlike the animosity that was prevalent in the Washington, D.C., area between blacks and police officers. I felt proud to live here; he could now relax.

I was sad to see his hurt. Not anger, but the disappointment he felt. As a life coach that teaches we see what we expect, I understand that his expectations of being harassed by police officers because of how he looks contributes to what he sees in his external world. But it takes two.

I recently heard a talk by KRS-One where he said that when police officers had beats and knew the residents, when residents would give baked goods to officers as a thank you, we were much more empathetic to each other. We expected the police to protect us and the police expected the locals to have the intention of doing what was best for the neighborhood because it was one community, comprised of those who serve and who are served. What would it be like to expect the best of what we have viewed as “the other”, to know the good in each other?

I was happy to hear Jay is even more motivated to be a part of the Laguna Beach community and bring his years of experience helping children to assist youth with mental health challenges in an organization where he sits on the board of directors. And then I feel grateful again.


Stacy Ison, Laguna Beach

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