12 June 2007

Courting, Colours, Cafeterias, and Cotton

I have always had friends of different colors, origins, backgrounds, etc. I have dated guys who were punk rock, jocks, nerds, musicians, puritan-like, recreational users, avid bicycle riders, all different types of interests. My platonic friendships have been likewise. I enjoy being around people who are different. Females and males.

I don't really find it hard to believe that this is still such a big deal in our society, but I find it disappointing. Why is it that most people typically look a little longer at couples who are different colours. I know that people are very prudish and that most people in this country are very conservative and stuck in their ways. But, it is 2007. It is really the most corny thing to say, but, the world is getting flatter and browner. Pretty soon, it will be hard to find a pure white person. Even now, most that you see in this country trace some of their genetics to Native Americans, if not some other brown people of the world.

I guess a main reason is that people are still super segregated when they are growing up. There are entire neighborhoods that are homogeneous. I lived in one that was completely white. I am pretty sure that within at least a square mile (on the Ladue side) there were only seven brown people living there. NOTE: There were five kids and two parents in my family.

There are people, some of whom I work with, who intentionally (some not really realizing what they are doing, though) move to areas further and further from the city. White flight. Granted, there are many who stick around, many who thrive on the diversity of the city and all it includes, I work with some of these, too. But these people represent the minority when it comes to our society. Most of the people who want to go back to the city are people going into real estate. And they are trying to build high-rise condos, or lofts that help the city in a few different ways. 1. They are draws to some who fled previously to come back to the city. 2. They tear down the old dilapidated homes and rental communities that the minorities once lived in. 3. They are too expensive for these former home owners/renters to move into. 4. Since the new residences are too expensive for the majority of the minorities who used to inhabit these areas of the city, they must move elsewhere. (Where? Doesn't really matter, as long as they are out of sight of the new residents.) 5. With these people out of sight and out of mind, even more wealthier people can move in to the area without having to set their eyes ever on people out of their economic status. Most of the time they will not see people our of their colour, unless they are people different from them physically, but on the same page mentally and economically. (No offense to these, I often fit into this category since I am not a threat to white people due to my ability to code switch.) They live amongst the good brown people -- the doctors, engineers, moneymakers -- not the bad brown people -- house workers, convenience store workers, janitors, the bus riders, the lower income makers.

I sound negative. Don't get me wrong, I would love to live in a loft. I like the way they look. I also like that there is money going into the city system because of architectural achievements like these. If only more of it could be going to the public schools of the city. There might be some sort of loophole keeping the funds from going there, I don't know.

All I know is that most people are not around people different from those who look and act like them. Minorities are the same way, too. Most people don't encounter different people until they reach college (and we all know the cost of that is rising, meaning more people are not having even that, sometimes, diverse experience). Though even at the university level, it is rare to see people around other people who are different from them.

I always remember back to junior high school in the cafeteria. My table got extra Ram Awards for being the most diverse table -- a biracial (black/white) girl, an Ethiopian-Iranian, a red headed Jew, a Filipino-German, a blonde headed white girl, a black girl with unrelaxed hair, a little bitty Jewish girl, and me (Nigerian). Even the teacher (I think Mr. Keller) realized how rare it was to see something like this.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a commercial (I believe for cotton) a few months ago where there was an interracial couple in the ad. There was a man of Asian decent and a woman who was African American. Pretty sad that it was so shocking, new, and different. But what can I really expect.

Maybe one day we will see all sorts of people hanging out on the corner and rich white people won't walk by thinking it must be a drug deal. Maybe one day we will see all sorts of mixed couples and not think that the man is trying to move himself up socially, or that the woman gave up on black men, or that the woman is trying to be "black". Maybe one day we will all accept people. Maybe one day we will all find it strange for a person to only be friends with people who look like them. Maybe one day it won't be a joke for someone to say, "But, my best friend is black."

Maybe one day.

1 comment:

  1. The City of St. Louis spends more on their students, per student, than any other district in Missouri besides Clayton. It's more than an economic issue--it is the culture of low expectations perpetuated by cronyism, a school board out of control, racism, a lack of seeing an education as valuable, a lack of vision, too much administration taking away money for quality teachers and resources, the white and black flight of the middle class out of the city limits, the list goes on and on.


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