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.
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?