Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Where is everyone (where my girls at)? pt1

Phew. i didnt realize what a backlash i had created with my posts. i must seem like some insecure, judgemental freak. i'm going to try to tame that a little. i actually feel bad about that. i know better though. i'm not a freak; in fact, i'm very normal, and nice, and friendly, and you'd probably talk to me if we sat next to each other at the library. i meet moms all the time, and we talk about issues, i get out and do fun things with my kids. just like you.

there are some really messed-up-in-the-head people out there, and i'm not one of them, despite what you may think. however, i admit that i may be a little delusional when it comes to perceptions about my appearance, race, and how i see others, but that's about it.

anway, i'm getting off track here. as i was saying before, i do fun things with my kids. portland is great in that it has a ton of kid and family friendly resources and programs and activities for kids. i spend a lot of time taking my kids to library storytimes, indoor parks, community center program/classes, museums, farmers markets,etc. i like culture. i want my kids to experience reading, and music and i don't stay at home and use the TV as an all day babysitter.

for a long time, i thought portland wasn't diverse. albeit, we(black people) only account for 7% of the portland population. but whenever i'd go to storytimes, or museums or the community center programs or other kid friendly places, i'd be the only (usually, occasionally i might see another 1 or 2) mom of color. every once in a while there might be another black mom or asian, but generally, it's a room full of white moms, and me.

yet, when i got to the mall, a large percentage of the mall population seem to be young black moms, married or not, with their babies. Hmmm. why aren't they at Storytime? why don't i see them in the libraries with their children? why don't i see them at the community center classes? why don't i see them at the childrens' museum? why didn't i see any at my boys' swimming lessons this summer? of course this is a huge generalization, because i know that there are black moms out there who do these activities like me. it's just that, i dont see it very often.

i would LOVE to get all chatty at the indoor park or library with another mom of color, the way i ALWAYS notice the white moms doing. and sure, i can talk to them, and i DO talk to them, but it's nice to see some other black faces as well. and on the occasion that there is another black mom there, we almost always start making small talk, and i love it.

almost every time i'm at the mall, i see the black moms there, pushing the strollers, seemingly aimless (being a mallrat is aimless), being a consumer. i believe that you do what you know. while i was growning up, i did so many activities all the time. my mom and dad read to me, i learned foreign languages, we traveled, i took ballet, tap, ice-skating, piano and flute lessons and probably more that i just can't remember. my dad made sure we saw all the monuments and important buildings in Washington dc. he made sure we went to the world forestry center, and saw the lewis and clark trails here in oregon. so naturally, this is what i know and do when raising my children.

i almost leap for joy when i show up to storytime and there's another black mom there. actually, this past summer i kind of buddied up with one that i had met there. she and i were always the only moms of color there, in a room of about 20 or so. and although i have lots of white friends i really felt instantly comfortable with this black mom that i met. we were a lot alike (educate and exposed) so every tuesday, we'd sit together and chat.

the white moms were like that all the time though. do white people feel instantly comfortable with each other when they go to places see each other? (more on this subject later) i would venture to guess probably not, since seeing each other everywhere is not such a big deal.


Tabulee said...

You're right, I don't feel that automatic bond with just any white Mom. We're a dime a dozen! But as a liberal living in Boise, Idaho, I do feel an instant bond with someone who seems equally hippy or funky or not "red." There is an instant comfort there, an understanding that this is a person with a like mind, someone I can let my guard down with, someone I can speak openly with. That is a prescious and rare thing around here. In Portland I feel like I belong. Here I feel like a foreigner.

D said...

right, i agree with tabulee that there's a lot more to making a connection than just race.

although there is a definite truth in the idea of white privilege (discussed elsewhere), i think it's overstated by many people in this area of connection... as if ALL white people are one big happy family.

unfortunately, any truth in something like this is sad, and there is some truth... but look around when you're in a group of white moms... you'll see some sitting in a corner, afraid to talk to anyone. on a tangent, somebody told me once that the people sitting alone in a corner are the easiest to talk to, but i've never tested out the theory.

but hey, look around... if it makes you feel better, there are insecure white people, too : (

jshep said...

ijust want to say, i'm late cause i just discovered this blog, but i really appreciate your honesty and openness. and i will read every post. i live in nyc now but i was in portland and i know what you mean about the place and it is so not the progressive place it wants to be, or thinks it is. and reading your experiences helps me process my own. so thank you. i can't wait to read more!

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