This Is (Permit Patty’s) America


I’m tired of people throwing stones and then hiding their hands. Especially white people.

Yep, I said it!

BBQ Becky. Rosanne Barr and now Permit Patty.

Now she’s sorry. Now she’s saying it wasn’t racially motivated and that she never really called the police.

White privilege is something that is real and unfortunately, the 8 year old little girl has realized that way too early.

Or is it too early? It’s a shame that that is even a question these days.

As a mother of a Black girl (who is indeed magical), I am daily faced with explaining to her 10 year-old self about the racial tension that exists in the world she grows up in. I remember the times I encountered racism, the moments I “knew” I was black. As Black Americans, we have all vividly encountered those moments where we felt small, infuriated, powerful yet helpless, hopeful and proud all at the same time. The stark dichotomy of those feelings is indescribable yet I’m sure everyone reading this knows what that has felt like. Let the church say Amen!

This little 8 year-old magical Black girl decided, with her mother, to take advantage of a hot summer day and sell water in front of her property. (SN: Does the aspect of property really matter? I’m sure it does, so for the sake of this argument, let’s just pretend it was the city’s property).

Sure, water is free. But this mother, if she was anything like me, wanted to teach her daughter the most important aspect of entrepreneurship – the art of the hustle.

Why not sell water on a hot day? How else will people know you’re selling water unless you shout it loud and proud? Why not provide a commodity to people as they walked by, while gaining the life experience of grinding.

But that’s it. White people don’t understand the grind.

Ok, ok. Let’s just say Permit Patty doesn’t.

Because if Permit Patty did, she wouldn’t have felt compelled to exhibit her white privilege in the most futile, asinine and wasteful way. Permit Patty, with her White Privilege, decided that she would teach the 8 year-old girl and her mother a lesson in what’s “right”. White right, of course. She thought it would be a good day to call her friends (ie., the police) to serve and protect her and her foolishness. Whether she called or not, the act of pretending to do so plays into the real fear and apprehension black and brown people have with law enforcement, but that’s another blog for another day.
Now, Permit Patty wants to apologize and recants the racial motivation, or lack thereof because she’s receiving death threats. Really? Really, Permit Patty. Have several seats.
Permit Patty, this is America.

This is the America we live in, where people like her feel entitled enough to a sidewalk which is most likely city property, to call the authorities to stop a little girl and her momma from selling water on a hot, summer day. The “America” that consistently tells our little black and brown girls and boys that they have a specific place and position, which completely contradicts us telling them daily that they are magical.

This is America. Where those who throw the stones run and hide their hand when they can’t take the reciprocity that exists in nature and physics – for every action there is a reaction.

This is the America that must change. Cause honestly, Permit Patty is just another representation of White America, with Dialing Debby, Snitching Stan or Patrolling Pete in the wings. We see it all too often. It’s sad that this is the America we are living in. But I’m ever so thankful that Permit Patty had just a phone and this didn’t turn into anything worse.

Even more sad that that’s a reality in this America.

Marlena Little

Educator, visionary and leader.

Marlena Little grew up in the inner-city of Chicago in one of the worst neighborhoods of the city. Yet the contrast of her home and school life provided evidence to the statement, “it’s not where you’ve been but where you are going”. Having attended one of the best elementary and high-schools in the country, she was determined to live beyond the poverty and violence of her neighborhood, knowing education was the escape.

Marlena Little, a Memphian by choice, relocated to Memphis to fight for educational equity. As a teacher, it was important for Marlena’s students to see her as an example of that escape. As an administrator, Marlena challenged teachers and staff to illuminate education as the way out, yet as a visionary, Marlena has created paths of escape.

As Founder of Life Prep Academy Schools, Marlena Little has seamlessly merged her childhood with the standard of excellence imbedded in her educational experiences to provide students, regardless of any “label”, the limitless opportunities a high-quality education affords.  Her philosophical beliefs about education are the guiding principles of Life Prep.

In addition to her many roles, Marlena Little is also a mother and forever learner.  She is a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership and has the pleasure of raising a nine-year-old daughter.