Saturday, April 16, 2011

North vs South

I have just spent a few days in South Carolina. What an interesting step back in time.

I was struck initially by the friendliness of the people here. Sir, ma'am and how are y'all doing? are common phrases.

At the restaurant this morning for breakfast, I could not help but think of segregated lunch counters as I watched blacks and whites sitting together, talking, sharing stories, arguing over gas prices, kids, food prices and the like. Dr. King would surely not recognize this South all these years after his "dream" (deferred still for so many of our people).

I ached to see so many people of color bussing tables, cleaning my hotel room and in school for low level healthcare jobs (medical assistant, etc). In a day where our President represents the very best of a white mother and black father, a graduate from an Ivy league college and a powerful, equally well-educated wife, it is unconscionable that blacks are not reaching for their highest aspiration here in the South.

Granted, in my home state of New York, all is not well - clearly evidenced by recent studies indicating that NYC is the 3rd most segregated city in the country - Miami, incidentally is THE most segregated city - interesting dichotomy I must add.

I spoke quite candidly with my cab driver on the long drive from the airport who spoke achingly of his desire to live in a truly integrated place, where race does not matter and one is treated equally, no matter the color of ones skin - does such a place exist?

A recent survey indicates that an overwhelming majority of Republicans living in Mississippi (46%) reject interracial marriage - this is a clear contradiction to census data that shows that more interracial marriages are occurring there than in almost any other state in the nation.

I wonder whether the South will indeed rise again, given the racial tensions overt and covert bubbling below the surface - time will tell.

I do know that I am proud to be a Northerner and living in Westchester is a boon to me at this point in my life. When I am finished with my sojourn there, I will likely return to Kentucky to be closer to my children and grandchildren in Michigan - this will require a sacrifice as I am not easily given to racism and frankly have neither time nor use for it, but as I did while living in Utah, will suck it up and make the best of the situation.

After Kentucky who knows.....

Thoughts for today from my hotel room where my maids are from Columbia South America and South Carolina.


Charlene said...

When people are born into poverty their examples that work equals reward are few. This is why if you have accompished much in your life, you must be a good example and reach to help those struggling up that same hill.

Very good essay!

That's what I think.

Charlene said...

I would subscribe but don't see a Google button or any way to. Sigh.