In Which Joey Drives to the West Side, Drinks an iced caramel macchiato, Picks up Master Boombastic, and Rambles On about Social Issues while Freebird Plays

If you think the title’s too long, you may not enjoy this post.

Over the weekend, I drove to the west side of town to pick up Sassy’s friend, Master Boombastic. I hadn’t wanted to. Drive west. In the rain. I’m tellin you, somethin happens to me when I cross Meridian Street, may as well be in the Bermuda Triangle. But I managed, even with a stupid weather headache.
Previously, Master Boombastic had been dropped off by his mother, and then collected by his mother. He’d spent his birthday with us here last month, and we’d enjoyed him. Great kid. For a kid, he knows a lot about movies and music and I am endeared.
I was aware he lived out of the district, but when I Googled his address and saw Fox Hill, my brain groaned.

Fox Hill is on the other side of Meridian Street.

 

 

One of my oldest friends, we’ll call him Anderson, lived by Fox Hill. We met at college, out of the city, so we didn’t have much of a rivalry. When I went to college, I was quite pleased to encounter anyone from the cities, because well, as HME pointed out, city kids never said things like, “You guys, there were black people in my class,” because they didn’t come from places where they only saw black people on television.

So yeah, in Indy, Anderson lived around Fox Hill, and at Ball State, he lived in my building, and we took French together, and we have been friends for…I’m not sure exactly, but more than 20 years.

 

When The Mister and I were looking to buy our home, more than anything, we needed to be in a good school district. Concepts of good school districts vary, but for us, it meant big, and diverse — schools we remember as good competitors in our various activities. When it came down to it, we agreed on two, our own, and Anderson’s.

Well, in the midst of house shopping, I realized pretty much nothing in Anderson’s district came close to our budget. I recall the white house in the woods, not a bad house, per se, but in the flood plain. What really galled me though, was that whatever idiot took the real estate photos swooped everything from the counters, literally leaving a visible pile of garbage on the floor. This is the house we could afford over there, the garbage floor house in the flood plain. I did not schedule a showing.

I called Anderson, “Did you even have poor kids at your high school?”
His reply remains a timeless treasure here with the Motterns, “Yes, we had some less fortunate students.”

*rolled eyes to the sky*

“Could you please advise your less fortunate friend as to where the hell they may have lived?”

I don’t know what he said, somethin about somethin, but per my own experience, they lived in the flood plain, or in apartments.
I picked Master Boombastic up and asked him how he liked livin over there.
Master Boombastic told me about how before this particular place, he lived in a small town in Illinois, where he was surrounded by cornfields. I reminded him he’s still surrounded by cornfields. He further illustrated his previous town by tellin me that straw hats were the norm, he’d had to learn to square dance, and listened to quite a lot of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Ah.

For the sake of disclosure I will tell you Master Boombastic is a self-proclaimed nerd. Like everyone else, he defies labels. He likes comic books and laughing at dank memes. He’s super smart and words goodly. He is also part Mexican, which you could tell by his names if I’d given them to you.

 

On the way home we passed our church, where I said, “That’s our church. We don’t much go to church, because we chose a church where the church doesn’t care if you go to church. They also don’t care if you’re a transgender atheist, so you know, not too churchy for a church.”
Master Boombastic told me he’d been religious before his move. I said, “I reckon you’d have to be. That’d be par for the course, what with all the Lynyrd Skynyrd.”

He told me of how he’d taken his brother to church a few times and it hadn’t gone over well. Said his brother is part African-American. Said the small town church people weren’t too receptive to that.
I explained that we usta live on an Army base. Said our kids had always known diversity. Everyone was from somewhere else, everyone intermingled and intermarried and made babies of this and that, and most people never thought a thing of it.
Then we moved here, and Sassy was forced to consider her whiteness in a way she never had before. Before we moved here, Sassy never knew exactly how white she was. Before we moved here, no one ever told her she couldn’t kiss the black boys or spend so much time with her Spanish-speaking friends.

I told Master Boombastic that when we first moved back, we’d lived with my in-laws, and at school, Sassy was befriended by ‘Other White Girl’ who lived on a horse farm. That’s when her soul was crushed by prejudice. We sat in a restaurant booth as Sassy recounted the horrors of being labeled at first sight.
“They think I’m country, with mah accent and mah white skin and mah prey blonde hair!” (You have to read that sentence aloud, with wide eyes, and with the accent, to fully understand her hysteria.)
We laughed, but with compassion for her situation.

 

My kids live in an environment where color and background and gender and sexuality and ownership are all much more fluid. Their schools have had a lot less hostility over differences than mine or The Mister’s did, and we knew we had it better than our parents.

Sometimes I sit on my porch and watch the kids play basketball. I doubt my kids think about how they’re the only white ones. I do. I see. I look and I think, we’ve come so far. i’m so proud of this, as a mom, as an american…

But still I see it. I notice. I still see.

We’ve got a long way to go.

Do my kids see it? Will their kids see it? Will the kids of their kids see it? How many generations does it take?
I realize humans have been asking these questions, questioning not just labels and prejudices, but actual injustice, for eons, and then I don’t feel quite so proud.

Do you have anything to add to my unstructured thoughts on these topics? Did you at least enjoy the trip?

087

About joey

Neurotic Bitch, Mother, Wife, Writer, Word Whore, Foodie and General Go-To-Girl
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43 Responses to In Which Joey Drives to the West Side, Drinks an iced caramel macchiato, Picks up Master Boombastic, and Rambles On about Social Issues while Freebird Plays

  1. Benson says:

    I think people will notice skin color the same as they notice different hair colors. Hopefully they view it with the same non-importance. I look at 82nd street the same way as you view Meridian Street. Personally I own 2 straw hats and what’s wrong with Lynyrd Skynyrd?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Dan Antion says:

    I certainly enjoyed the trip. In some ways, I was on s similar journey. “Teach your children well…” I think you got that covered.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Josh Wrenn says:

    Dig the name you gave him, fist of all. I am very sad that your daughter has been told she should not associate with people who look different from her. I hope that changes one day. I hope that we learn to appreciate each other’s differences, not to use them as a means to devalue another.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. jan says:

    I agree one thousand percent – it’s lovely to see how far we’ve come but we do have a ways to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It was a great post, and I love your style. How was the macchiato?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Norm 2.0 says:

    Maybe it’s a depends on how you look at it, glass half full, glass half empty kinda thing. Yes we’ve still got a long way to go, but we’ve also come a long way too.
    Being exposed to different colors, and languages, and cultures from a young age certainly helps people to be more accepting and respectful towards one another.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Joanne Sisco says:

    I don’t think it matters whether someone has grown up around different cultures or not.
    Prejudice, racism, whatever you want to call it, is learned whether in a city, a small town, or back woods.
    A child will be fascinated by what’s different from them – not repelled – unless they’ve been taught or heard differently.
    How sad that these lessons of exclusion are still being taught.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s true…progress is slow. But, at least we ARE seeing it. Beautiful, thoughtful post, and I love the pic. 😊💛

    Liked by 1 person

  9. loisajay says:

    I did not know you could have such a long post title. I loved it. Also like the accent…being a transplanted Northerner down here in the South. The way people think…I don’t know, Joey. I just don’t understand them. At all. Really good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Susanne says:

    The trip was endearing and as onewho watches the daily bombast from south of the border (the 49th parallel) I am tremendously relieved to read this story. A beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Chez Shea says:

    I very much enjoyed the trip and I love the way you think about things. I am very much in tune with what you are saying. One of my shiniest parent moments, was when my lazy arse oldest son got out of bed at 7am so that he could cycle back to the polling booth to vote in favour of same sex marriage before he got the school bus- unprompted by me.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. pluviolover says:

    I sure do like the way you write. The changes from the days wife and I knew as kids, to the days when my children dealt with it all, to now and my grand kids. Lots of change and painful lessons to go with it all. Mo’ betta, but not yet perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. marianallen says:

    Wonderful post. And you got a couple of winnahs there, that Sassy and that Master Boombastic. I’m in Southern Indiana, and it’s a weird mix of bigotry and tolerance. And a whole raft of folks who will say the most awful things about a group of people, but be color/gender/ethnicity blind to people they actually KNOW. You’d think it would carry over in one direction or the other, but no. ANYWAY, wonderful post! Thanks for the thinkings.

    Liked by 2 people

    • joey says:

      I read your comment to my husband, it’s so dead accurate.
      They know one gay person who’s nice or one person of color they really get on with well, and those are exceptions. “The rest of them people…” It’s a cognitive dissonance I’ve never been able to wrap my mind around.

      Like

    • joey says:

      And thank you 🙂

      Like

  14. dalecooper57 says:

    I’m actually proud to be of the generation that made the change from the unenlightened, uncaring and un-empathetic era of the ’70s and ’80s, to the inclusive and all-embracing atmosphere of the ’90s (possibly due to the explosion of rave culture) and it saddens me to see the increasing rise of intolerance and hate.
    I’m also incredibly pleased how Audrey is growing up with the “so, they’re different from me, so what?” attitude which hopefully marks the beginning of a newly tolerant generation.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. You are allll right. I was the only girl on the basketball court with the boys and didn’t notice either. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. kirizar says:

    I always enjoy the journey–no matter how twangy the dialect might get. Ya-awl.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. larva225 says:

    As a mom I’ve been amused when my kids have finally “noticed” color. I’m still not sure Felix has. Stella often draws herself with dark brown skin, and thinks nothing of it. I think it’s cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      That is cool. I remember my oldest daughter (Spent the first three years in small town Tennessee) in the baby seat at the grocery store. She asked me, “Why that baby’s skin brown?” I said, “Cause her mama’s skin is brown.” She said, “Oh,” and went back to suckin her thumb. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Erika says:

    I grew up in the country and used to be ask how many black kids I had in my class by my dad and grandmother. Decades later, and I don’t think anyone in our extended family would even think of asking the same question of LM. Like you said, we’ve got a long ways to go as a country, but I’m glad my kids won’t be raised with the same mindset of separation as I was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      My small town experience included 5-6 black kids in the mid-80’s. I never much thought about it until I looked in the yearbook years later.
      My lil nephew lives in a lil podunk town and he’s got a rainbow of friends. It HAS to be getting better now, right?

      Liked by 1 person

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