A package with the N-word on it and containing a black Barbie doll was found Tuesday inside a mailbox at an Independence home.
Linda Gibbs, who lives in the home in the 9600 block of East Linwood Boulevard with her 7-year-old granddaughter, said she was told by authorities that they suspected the culprit had been scoping out the residence.
Since moving into the home in early February, Gibbs' granddaughter had retrieved the mail just about every day as part of her chores.
Gibbs is black. Her granddaughter is biracial.
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"It's messed me up real bad inside," said Gibbs, 62. "They (the culprit) are a coward. They need to find Jesus because one day it could be them. The tables could turn. This is a diverse United States. ... And how would they feel, if their grandchild, their child or themselves (were targeted)."
Independence police said the package, which prompted the evacuation of several homes in the area, was investigated by a bomb squad and found to be not dangerous.
Gibbs said she'd given her granddaughter the task of retrieving the mail because of pain in her leg. But on Tuesday about 11 a.m., something told her to go out for the mail herself.
"I'm still thinking it could have been my grandbaby," Gibbs said. "That's what tore me up inside. She could have gotten that out there."
Gibbs said she spoke with the Independence police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI told her it appeared to be a hate crime perpetrated by an adult, Gibbs said.
Gibbs called the perpetrator a coward.
Two neighbors have expressed sympathy toward Gibbs in the wake of the incident. One visited Gibbs' home and said she'd be keeping an eye out.
Gibbs moved into the Independence home after a deacon at her church offered it to her as a rental when Gibbs was searching for a place to raise her granddaughter. She moved from Kansas City, where she grew up.
She's spoken about race with her granddaughter, whose mother is black and father is white.
"I told her sometime people are ignorant," Gibbs said. "But you look around, it's diverse. Lots of caramel people like you. No need to be ashamed of your skin color."
The granddaughter is still too young to comprehend racism, Gibbs said, and she was happy to see her grandmother on a news broadcast.
The granddaughter was told by a school nurse about the package and asked her grandmother excitedly about it when she arrived home today.
Gibbs believes there's been a proliferation of racist incidents due to President Donald Trump's rhetoric. She cited his comments after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, in which Trump said neo-Nazis were "very fine people."
"That's not a good thing for a president to say," Gibbs said. "Seems like he's just opening the door for all kinds of crazies. I've been here long enough to know."
A cousin will stay with Gibbs for an indefinite amount of time, and Gibbs praised the Independence police for providing her some measure of peace by pledging to monitor her home "through the night and day."
"God did not give me the spirit of fear," she said. "The Lord has definitely given us power."
Her granddaughter will no longer retrieve the mail, Gibbs said.