Saturday, April 11, 2009

What Mixed Race America looks like in my town

I am a California gal (not counting the first 4 years spent in Flushing that is). But I have to say that I have really grown fond of the tiny town I live in, which sits adjacent to Southern U.

This morning I set out with my canvas bags to the local farmer's market. I passed by several families and couples walking their dogs, also headed to or from the farmer's market. I dropped off a load of clothes to a charity drop box at the gas station. I saw the local sculpture/metal artist's latest creations in his front yard--he has several interesting pieces, including a huge bronze head of Barack Obama. I waved hello to a pair of brothers who were sitting outside enjoying the spring sunshine--their family had once owned a big chunk of our tiny town, and I wondered if they saw, in their mind's eye, what it looked like before all the homes and town hall and other buildings were erected.

And one of the things I noticed walking to and from the farmer's market was the fact that I am not the only one. I suppose what I mean is, among the people I passed by, spoke to, waved, and bought fresh greens from this morning, not all of them were white or black, which is what my assumptions have long been about the South--that people are either white or black. But my tiny town is actually a fairly mixed race town. I passed by mixed race families and couples. I talked to mixed-race people at a cafe and the farmer's market. And as I was walking home, it dawned on me that I felt at home. I don't mean that I felt like I was in CA. I just mean that I felt fairly comfortable walking around on a sunny Saturday morning with my canvas bags full of greens (and some white irises that were still tight in their buds).

And even though I suspect that the drivers who wave at me from their cars either mistake me for that other Asian woman they know, perhaps they wave at me because I'm the Asian woman who lives in the green house on the corner and they want to be friendly.

[Aside: This is one thing that I've definitely noticed that is different about the South than other places I've lived, especially New England--total strangers will say hello to you or wave at you or tell you good morning or say "have a nice day." While walking my dog "B" I will have bus drivers and sanitation workers and the mail carriers honk and wave at me and "B" all the time. And people just wave and say Hi when you pass them by on the street. I must admit that it has taken me a while to adjust to all this casual friendliness, and for lack of a better word, it definitely feels very "Southern" to me.]

Either way, it's sort've nice living in a place where people do wave and say hi to you. There's a lot of discouraging things and disappointing things I could be blogging about with the topic of "mixed race America"--and I'll get to them, I'm sure, in the days and weeks ahead. But for today, I just wanted to share that I felt really good about where I live, and part of that good feeling has to do with feeling like my tiny town is sometimes a tiny vision of the kind of Mixed Race America that I want to live in.

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