Race and Place

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Back in 1979, when I moved from Louisiana to the Bay Area in California, I was asked a lot of strange questions, such as if I knew anyone in the Ku Klux Klan. People seemed to think that every white person from the south hated blacks and that we were all a bunch of fiery rednecks.

I didn’t understand this, even at a young age, for a couple of reasons. First of all, I had been around black people all my life, including being raised by a black nanny, and second, the kids in Moraga, California sured seemed a whole hell of a lot more homogenous than where I came from. If anyone should be asked about racial integration, it was them, not me.

I was reminded of this since I am currently Charlotte, North Carolina (and can literally see the NASCAR building from my hotel room window). Whenever I travel somewhere different, even in the U.S., I pay close attention. And what I’m seeing here is:

  • white and black people working together;
  • white and black people shopping together;
  • white and black people dressing similarly, sharing similar jobs, and in general having only the distinctive difference between their skin color

Zip back to the cloistered and smug progressives on the Bay Area Peninsula and you’ll get a very different, and quite hypocritical, picture. Oh, they will talk endlessly about equality, racial harmony, and social justice, but if you’ll stop a glance around at their parties – – their schools – – their places of work – – what will you see?

You’ll see caucasians and asians from Stanford and Harvard. Try – – just TRY – – to find a black person. You won’t. And I strongly suspect if any of these Mother Jones-reading polemicists were walking down a street and actually SAW a black person approaching them, they’d turn heel and try to find somewhere to hide.

Say what you want about the south, but the simple fact is that the way for people to get along together is to be together. The SF Bay Area talks the talk, but the fact is that they keep their black people sequestered in Oakland, East Palo Alto, and Hunter’s Point. And the next time they are bragging about how broad-minded and inclusive they are, I hope they choke on their avocado toast.

End of story.