brotherpeacemaker

It's about our community and our spirituality!

One Day I Hope To Get Back To Idaho

IdahoScene

With respect to nature Idaho is probably the most beautiful place I have ever had the pleasure to call home. The air was clean and crisp. Much more often than not the skies were brilliant blue in the day and indigo at night with the bright lights from stars piercing the sky. The full moons always seemed to be fuller.  The thunderstorms were more intense there. The streets were kept clean, at least for the most part. There were many days I would walk the little less than two miles to work and reverse course in the evening so I could catch a little exercise.

At the time, it was an ideal life with a couple of exceptions. One was that I was working contract at a call center and there was absolutely no job security. I could be dumped at a moments notice with nothing but a shake of the hand and a pat on the back for my troubles. Although I asked several times there simply was no way the company I worked for could bring me in as a permanent employee. Headquarters on the east coast simply would not bend the rules. And everyday there were talks of cutbacks. Plus, with a brand new baby on the way, I needed some kind of benefits for him. That was the straw that broke my camel’s back and made me realize I really had to find permanent employment.

But what really made me want to leave Idaho was the lack of people who could sympathize with my inevitable brushes with blatant racism. Not every white person in Idaho is a jerk. Many are really nice people who made my family and I feel welcome in the area. But all too often there were people who wore their racism on their sleeves and really made it a point not to hide it or to even think about it.

Somebody vandalized the recreation center at the apartment complex once. Coming from the city where vandalism is part of life I really didn’t think anything of it. Shortly thereafter, while walking through the apartment complex, I ran into one of our neighbors and stopped to have a quick friendly conversation when they brought up the vandalism of the recreation center and asked me if I knew who did it. I was taken aback by the question. I said no and asked why they thought I would know. They replied you never know. I agreed and asked them a similar question, if they had to suspect any of their friends of vandalizing the center who would it be? The woman’s face turned red as she defended her friends, why would any of her friends vandalize the center? You never know.

We would go to the grocery store and the bag boy thinking he was clever would overload a single bag with heavy cans hoping it would explode when we picked it up out of the car. The cashier who, seeing that we were next to be served, would quietly pick someone waiting in line behind us then turn her light on indicating she’s opening up the next lane. The package delivery person who knocks on our door and tells us if we want our package we have to pull it off the truck and carry it up the stairs ourselves. The paper delivery person never could find our door, our newspaper could be found at the bottom of the driveway while the people in the apartment right next door to ours, their front door less than fifteen feet away from our front door, regularly found their paper waiting on their welcome mat.

Now all of this stuff is just nuisance with some people doing their best to make our lives as inconvenient as possible. Most of it can be dismissed as pretty petty. And in the beginning we did dismiss it. But after a while, a petty drop of water can drill a hole through the mightiest rock. The constant disrespect and the disdain can wear thin the mightiest resolve. And there is no one who can relate or sympathize with or see or even believe what’s going on. Inevitably, the majority of people want to dismiss these experiences as nothing more than black people being too sensitive.

And for sure the same thing happens here in St. Louis. There are people here in St. Louis who wears their disdain for black people on their sleeves as well. But the big difference is that there is a community of black people here and we don’t feel as lonesome. I keep in mind that many black people can be every bit as obnoxious and disrespectful as anyone else. And while these black people wouldn’t hesitate to show their contempt for other black people for no other reason than they’re black, these self hating people don’t realize that they are even more the victim for they have come to accept and even internalized the racial disparity aimed at them and the rest of the black community.

Nevertheless, when living in a community of other black people we have something in common and a shared perspective that is more likely to give some understanding of the plight of what many of us have to experience. Sometimes it helps just to hear someone else say “I understand”. And while I can blog and get the support I may need off the net, I personally find that to be a poor substitute to having someone physically in front of you saying “I understand” or “I got your back” or “that dirty ass bastard”. That’s one of the best things about living in a community of people who share what you’re going through.

My Idaho neighbors didn’t understand the contempt that was coming at my family and me from all different directions. Lots of times, there were days when it felt like there were so many people out to do their share to support racism and we were the only people in the vicinity that they could practice their racism on. Few people in the area would have the same experience as the lone black family. As far as they were concerned racism was a rare exception and all those people were just having bad days and we should really learn to give them a break. That may be true but it seemed like people like that person delivering our newspaper were having a bad day every day. The person delivering our paper had a network of people who defended him and supported him without even knowing him. We had no such support, even from the people we knew.

I would love to go back to Idaho. But not under the same conditions I left the place with. I’d need to be a lot more secure financially. But more importantly I need to make sure that I have a lot more support from people in the community. People who are quick to simply say that I’m just being too sensitive do not give me the impression that they understand what I’m going through and they certainly don’t give me the impression that they understand or support me. If I’m lucky enough to Idaho again, I’d like to make sure I have some semblance of the support I need.

Monday, September 14, 2009 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts

2 Comments »

  1. Great post. I love Idaho and grew up in Washington state just next door. I am a sucker for those evergreens and clean outdoor settings.

    But, when it comes to racism I feel you. Because I know for a fact that they know how to and are extremely versed at handing out a big ole heaping serving of some racism.

    Ah, the storms! We lived on ten acres in Eastern Washington and could sit on the porch and watch the storms blow through with the trees twisting and turning, acting as if they might tumble over. And a few actually did.

    But, my favorite might be the wild life. The one thing that city living doesn’t give. Unless you consider furry rats called squirrels wild life.

    Thanks.

    Comment by theblacksentinel | Tuesday, September 15, 2009 | Reply

  2. While lacking the scenery and the ultra crisp clean air of Idaho, Iowa offers some wildlife, even in the midst of the Des Moines Metro area. As I patrol the middle portion of the city in the wee hours of the night, I can see many deer (we’ve had a few moments where a police officer had to herd a group of deer down a main downtown thoroughfare to get tehm out of the soon to be busy rush hour corridors), foxes, raccoons, the rat faced squirrels of course, owls, beaver and otter on occasion, and towards the edge of the city a coyote or two from time to time.

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Wednesday, September 16, 2009 | Reply


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