Unlikely Martha
Life Me Rant Soapbox

Race and Change


I admire people who say they don’t see color when it comes to people. I have often speculated what that might feel like because being truthful I know nothing about that. Before I move on let me clarify I don’t have a racist bone in my body but when I look at people I definitely see color.

The color that I see doesn’t affect my feelings about that person, so perhaps that is what people are referring to when they share their blindness to color, but the over analytical in me won’t let statements as the aforementioned rest lightly.

eggs

Source

So I’ll get to the point.

Ever since we’ve moved I’ve become more cognizant of the fact that we are one of  the few black families in the neighborhood. I could be exaggerating but in about a month I’ve only seen one other black woman that passes us in her car daily as my son and I wait for his school bus. My neighbors have been more than friendly but many are extremely old and in the back of mind I’m always thinking about what they are really thinking about our family being on this street.

So you need background?

The county that I live in, based on what I’ve heard was very racist back in the day. The area is still very rural and on a good day I will get a side eye or a terse how are you to a head nod that I may give as a kind gesture. There is a subdivision up the street with the word plantation in it and another with the words cotton and  field. So yeah.

Back to my neighbors.

The few that I have met are very old and have grandchildren our age. As I stated before they have been nothing but friendly but when one of them voluntarily felt the need to tell me that it didn’t matter if our skin was black, purple or orange he just likes for his neighbors to keep their grass cut I was tempted to say, “What is that supposed to mean?” Then I beat myself up for thinking too deep into his statement. Then I figured it was his attempt at letting me know he wasn’t a racist, or that was his way of saying, “We have black friends.”

I know I am just having these feelings because this is a new environment but I wish the new smell would wear off so that I can get comfortable and stop thinking everyone in the neighborhood has one good eye on us because we are young and black.

I don’t need not a one of you to tell me that I am tripping because I know I am. What I do need is for someone to speak up and say they’ve felt the way I’m feeling when thrown into a new environment where they felt like the token.

The kids? Oh they are adjusting fine. Matter of fact my son’s response the other day to my question of how many black kids rode his bus was, “Why does that matter?” He stopped me dead in my tracks. My response was, it doesn’t. Mommy is just trying to get a feel for the neighborhood….and truthfully I am, not that it would change anything and that is the point I am trying to get myself to embrace. I do feel that if we were in a neighborhood with younger people maybe I wouldn’t feel this way. However, living in an area around old people who were thriving during the civil rights era is just making the transition a little bit harder for me.

Have you found yourself in situations where you were the only person of your color?  Did it bother you at all?

You Might Also Like...

26 Comments

  • Reply
    Kita
    August 27, 2013 at 8:24 am

    I think our county is worse. Growing up in a very racist city I knew first hand that it mattered and it still does. There were unspoken rules that my were taught to me even at a young age. We don’t walk on certain sides of the street, we don’t go into certain neighborhoods, etc. I just spoke about this on my blog today where I was called the N word right in my own subdivision for no reason. Thankfully we live around enough of a mixture that if something goes down it won’t go down without a fight. Hopefully you will learn your area and know the people as time goes by.
    Kita recently posted..What’s up Kita

  • Reply
    TJ
    August 27, 2013 at 9:17 am

    I live my whole life this way. As far as we know, we’re the only Black husband and wife couple in our neighborhood. I’m one of few Black faculty at my job.

    I refuse to see things through a colorblind lens, but I always try to assume that everyone means well. However, there are those eyebrow raising moments. For instance, when we moved into our house, a set of our neighbors came over and introduced themselves: “Hi, we’re the Smiths, are you owning or renting?” SMH. Our next door neighbors were dumping their trash into our yard, and we finally caught them because they left the wife’s prescription info on a medicine bottle. On the flip side, some of our neighbors are really nice, especially nice when they learn about our education and professions :-/. You aren’t alone, and I think your older neighbor who made the grass cutting comment was processing how he felt about having Black neighbors.

    Your son’s response to your question gives me hope. I think they see race in much more progressive ways. I hope that their generation does a better job with race relations, and only time will tell.
    TJ recently posted..All day workin’ . . . .

  • Reply
    Legally Chocolat
    August 27, 2013 at 9:38 am

    That’s almost everyday for me. My practice area is not diverse. Nor are the courthouses I frequent. I get plenty of side eyes and comment that may or may not teeter totter the line of inappropriate. I could say I’m used to it, but I am cognizant of the fact that some people do not necessarily want me around. Sadly it is reality in some circles. But I just keep doing what I do and keep it moving……
    Legally Chocolat recently posted..A weekend

  • Reply
    Baby Shopaholic
    August 27, 2013 at 10:41 am

    It’s been this way for me my whole life. I was the only black kid in my grade until 5th. I’ve never had a problem making friends but I did have some bad moments but I understood early on it was their problem and not mine. I was a cheerleader at an all white HS. I’ve never went into situation thinking others will feel a certain way because I was the only black person. If anything I stood out and that was fine with me.

    I’m sure you already heard it from Mr but I am sure that guy meant nothing by what he said. He just saying if you don’t cut your lawn he is coming for you and doesn’t care what color you are : ).
    Baby Shopaholic recently posted..I’m Here for Beyonce’s New Bob

  • Reply
    Jehancancook
    August 27, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I’m from a country where blacks are the minority so I’m pretty used to being in the minority for most of my life, so it’s second nature to me and I’ve never had an issue with it. Having said that, we didn’t go through a civil rights movement just a few decades ago and also our captors weren’t our fellow country man so there was no need to feel a certain way around your non black neighbor. We were all in the same boat so to speak. All our us were from there from India, Africa, China, etc. Here in the South I can see how you can become a bit more aware of the fact that you are black living among predominately white and clearly you aren’t the only one that felt that way. Your neighbor is very aware of the fact that you are the only black on the block and that’s why he felt the need to make that statement. Do I think he meant anything by it? No, but I do dislike when folks try to show that they are “down.” If color isn’t an issue then just don’t mention it…its unnecessary in my opinion.
    Jehancancook recently posted..SPLIT PEA SOUP

  • Reply
    Danielle S
    August 27, 2013 at 11:31 am

    I went to a predominately white university for undergrad and that was my first experience being the token. Now that I’m in grad school I’m still the token in most cases, but I’ve learned to just push it out of my mind as much as possible. It’s definitely uncomfortable and I am ALWAYS side-eyeing someone for their comments, but I pick and choose when to speak up.
    Danielle S recently posted..To Do in Four Days…

  • Reply
    Crystal
    August 27, 2013 at 11:58 am

    I know the feeling and can relate all too well. More so in my career, especially while out shopping and so on. It really bothers me when people call out color. When people say crazy things, I just think to myself…thank you for further confirming the type of person you are. It doesn’t make someone anymore comfortable with you when you make statements like these. It’s hard to not let it upset you; you have to take it in stride, but just know that it does exist.

  • Reply
    Brandyne
    August 27, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    I grew up with a very diverse group of friends. Before I moved to Savannah, it hardly ever occurred to me that anyone would care about the color of my skin. But here I face a very different environment, and it saddens me. It can be hard to be aware of what is going on around you without allowing it to change who you are and how you live. But like your son said, why should it matter. Let those folks with problems, have their own issues. After all it’s their own lives that are being limited, not yours.

  • Reply
    Bernetta
    August 27, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    When we moved into our home it was the same way. The 3 houses surrounding us were all white while the lady across the street was black and NEVER SPOKE to us. We ended up getting kinda friendly with our neighbors on the right before they moved. Other than that,we kept to ourselves. I hated that because I get jelly sometimes when I hear how people just “kick it” with the neighbors!! Now we live somewhere else and we get a few waves and that’s it.
    Bernetta recently posted..Motherhood Monday :: Body Snap Back? Not exactly.

  • Reply
    Quiana
    August 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Growing up in a predominately white circles I longed to be in a more diverse area and this was a big component of where I decided to move once I was an adult. At first I was against being in NYC with a child b/c of the chaos but I decided it’s what I make it and that diversity and culture were most important. I definitely think it’s a geographical/generational issue, and I’m careful not to identify things by race around my daughter. I grew up with parents who did/still do that and it bugs me, but I understand they’re a product of their upbringing. Looking back I’ve found that I’ve identified more with people based on their common socioeconomic background – not that I ask for their income info or anything like that (!), but growing up I tended to gravitate towards people who had two working-outside the home parents/middle class, multiple siblings, similar religious upbringing etc. It just seemed to happen that way, and I’ve found somehow it still does for me as an adult.
    Quiana recently posted..Lovebirds’ Maryland Mini-Family Reunion

  • Reply
    Cam | Bibs & Baubles
    August 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I feel it not so much where we live, but more where my kids attend school. We’re the only chocolate family there. Everyone is nice. There have been times though when I feel like they’ve wondered how we can afford to send our kids there. (it’s pretty pricey) You know how you can see the question on someone’s face? We are kind of left out at times, I think. It’s obvious the other families get together more for play dates and stuff outside of school. It could be that they live in the same neighborhoods though. Who knows. It sucks because my son sometimes wants to have play dates with his friends from school but we just aren’t cool with their parents like that.
    Cam | Bibs & Baubles recently posted..Rolling in My…Minivan?

  • Reply
    Roni
    August 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Don’t feel bad…you’re definitely not alone. I’ve had some those same feelings. I’ve lived in a few neighborhoods here recently, where we are one of few black people living there. My youngest currently attends a school where I can literally count on my hand the number of black children that attend there…Have I ever been treated differently or wrongly? No. But I definitely know we stand out and that’s cool.
    Roni recently posted..Midweek Mani: Full Steam Ahead

  • Reply
    GoodLooknOut
    August 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Girl, sometimes it fly’s right over my head and I get mad after the fact because I didn’t read the person. I think what you’re going through is normal though. That man was dead wrong for saying that but i agree that he may of just spoke out of turn. We all get our foot stuck in our mouths at some point. I even notice myself being a tad bit racist (indirectly) and have to catch myself. It’s all learned behavior though. We ALL have to learn to keep ourselves in check!
    GoodLooknOut recently posted..[#31Stories Week 3] I’m Getting Old

  • Reply
    LaSHawn
    August 27, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    I grew up in DC, or chocolate city. So I NEVER grew up having to deal with this. It was only when I moved and lived in Vegas for a year in my 20s that I had to deal with being the only chocolate drop at work. Or in the club, or at that fancy restaurant with friends. And although it bothered me at first, I learned to adapt. I haven’t experienced what you speak of in my own neighborhood, but at work, it still happens. I get the: you are pretty cool for a black girl comment a lot. Which I deal with. Quickly.
    Hopefully, he is just from a different era and meant nothing by it. And your son’s comment does give me hope for the future.
    LaSHawn recently posted..The Doctor’s Visit

  • Reply
    Lynn
    August 27, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    You are truly not alone… Although, I don’t have an issue now but I’ve experience tha when my girls were much smaller. There were probably a handful of us in the neighborhood and at their school. I just went about the norm & they had to adjust eventually the saw we was there to stay then before I knew it blacks were all on the block… We moved them the heck up out of there! But seriously, I don’t think the guy meant any harm sometimes we don’t know what we are saying & must choose our words wisely. Be he better NOT continue tho! *side eye*
    Lynn recently posted..Weekend WOW Moment…

  • Reply
    Dayka Robinson
    August 28, 2013 at 8:13 am

    #1: Congrats on the house!

    #2: I don’t believe in people being “color-blind”–that’s literally impossible. I think it’s also slightly disrespectful (or maybe just sloppy use of the English language) to tell people you “don’t see their color” because the reality is–especially for people of color in this country–the color of our skin is directly tied to our experiences and how we are socialized into this world. If you want to say that you’re not going to “pre-judge” me based upon the color of my skin is fine, but don’t say you don’t see my color. All of my experiences growing up Black (and as a woman) in this country are an integral part of how I view the world and I think that we SHOULD recognize and honor these experiences in each other. I just met a new carpenter yesterday who is White (of Greek descent) and he was telling me how his mother speaks NO English and has been here for over 30 years. People would say/think his mom was stupid and lazy because she didn’t learn the language but for her, she missed her homeland and never wanted her kids to forget their heritage. That’s a different perspective that we don’t often think of. So to him, being Greek (and of darker complexion) is central to who he is.
    #3-Your neighbor’s comment WAS inappropriate, there’s no doubt about that. If you don’t care about the color of my skin, simply show me by your BEHAVIOR that you don’t care…you don’t need to make a declaration about it. You’re not going to make me more comfortable by telling me how many Black friends you have…that’s really irrelevant as we are not all alike. But the bottom line is this: I don’t think the guy meant any harm. I’m sure you had an idea that the home you were purchasing was in an older, established community and most of those people were there when things were really bad which is, unfortunately, not so long ago. Are your neighbors changing with the times? Absolutely. Will most of them probably still have a ways to go? Absolutely. All you can do is be you–you don’t need help being told how to keep your property up as you DO have home training and this is not your first piece of property. Don’t overanalyze everything, but also take a stand (with love) when you need to. You shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable in your own neighborhood.

    Trust your gut, you’ll what to do.

    Xo,
    Dayka
    (sorry for the long response!)

  • Reply
    Dani @ OKDani.com
    August 28, 2013 at 11:02 am

    You’re not alone, and you’re not trippin’ IMO.
    If someone came at me w/ i don’t care about your color but keep your lawn cut I’d be taken aback and probably give a rude response. ‘keep your lawn cut’ is enough, don’t preface it w/ anything about my race you fuckin prick.

    ….i think i’m in a bad mood today.

  • Reply
    Krissy
    August 28, 2013 at 11:59 am

    What’s on the top of my list of things that irk me is when people say, “I don’t see color.” because that’s not true. Everyone see’s color. Everyone is aware of it and you don’t have to fix your mouth to say you don’t see color just to make people think you aren’t racist. I think the most racist people use that excuse. And I’m not talking about you personally, I’m speaking in general.

    I’m with Dani, I think that dude was rude and offensive and should have kept his comments to himself. No one asked him shit!

    I work in an office where I am THEE only African American. My work bestie is actually African so the 2 of us stick out like a sore thumb. These chicks have racist tenancies but try to contain them when we are around. It bothers me because I’ve heard the things they say when they think we don’t hear them and I’ve seen their actions when they think we don’t see them. If another one of them touches my hair tho. . . We’re gonna have some problems!
    Krissy recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: great grands

    • Reply
      Quiana
      August 28, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      I saw your tweet (I think it was) abt your coworker alerting you that a black man was visiting the office that day hinting that you might want to check him out. REALLY?! What foolishness O_o
      Quiana recently posted..Eons Ago I Met Young House Love

      • Reply
        Krissy
        August 29, 2013 at 12:29 pm

        girl! extra foolish! When white guys come in here should I start letting her know and making sure I point the ethnicity as well? smh.
        Krissy recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: great grands

  • Reply
    Carla
    August 29, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Oh I’ve been there, more times than one. I won’t say that I’ve never used the phrase, because I have, but I don’t use it anymore. Like you, I also see color but it doesn’t matter to me if you’re a genuine person. It’s no longer a shock to me anymore when I am the only black person or when we are the only black family. I’ve also discovered that the more successful I seem to become in my field, the less I see people like me in my field, not only in regards to skin color but also in regards to gender. But, gender is a different topic for another day.
    Carla recently posted..I Mean It.

  • Reply
    Miss Foodie Fab
    August 29, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Eh, you weren’t tripping. That comment would not have been said had you knot been black. Also, I hate when people say they don’t see color. We all do, unless you are legally color blind. And, even then you see black and white. Bloop!
    Miss Foodie Fab recently posted..Creamy Vegetarian Enchiladas with Kraft Easy Meals Recipe Makers #KraftRecipeMakers #shop

  • Reply
    Jenni
    August 30, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    I feel the same way when I attend a pta meeting or a birthday party of one of RJ’s classmates. He’s one of a few kids of color in the school and the only in his class. I’m the on poc on the pta. Typically, I’m pretty comfortable in any situation even if I’m the only black person, but there are occasions with this group where I feel really aware of my brown skin.
    Jenni recently posted..Random

  • Reply
    K. Elizabeth @ YUMMommy
    September 10, 2013 at 12:00 am

    You’re not tripping. They might be keeping one eye on y’all. And that may or may not have anything to do with them being racist per say, but just curious. I grew up in an all white neighborhood and our neighbors were always keeping their good eye on us. We even had our dog stolen and a few hate notes left taped to our front door.

    And our old neighborhood was all white except for us and one other black family. Most of our neighbors were very friendly. And everybody kept one good eye on everybody but more as way of looking out for each other. I felt safe and very welcomed. I hope that this will be the case for you guys.

    It’s uneasy sometimes living in neighborhoods where we’re the minority because there are all these stereotypes about us that paint us in a negative light, but it seems like some of your neighbors are making the effort to get to know y’all for themselves and make their own conclusions.
    K. Elizabeth @ YUMMommy recently posted..Bible 365: Week 36

    • Reply
      Mimi
      September 12, 2013 at 8:03 am

      It gives me comfort to see so many people have experienced this. I just think it is all still new to me and I’ll need a little adjusting. I think I am getting there.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge