A reason for some home town pride.
I went to college in Alabama. I was asked before leaving Colorado if I was afraid to be going “down south”. I wasn’t. Or at least I don’t remember being afraid. Looking back, I can tell you the experience showed me a lot about racism…as it existed in Colorado. You see, in Alabama, it was clear cut that most white people weren’t going to pay attention to me other than to make sure I wasn’t behaving in any stereotypical ways. There were clear cut lines as to where I belonged as a young, Black woman in the areas I spent most of my time. Hence my general discomfort anywhere outside the metro areas of Montgomery (AL), Birmingham (AL), Atlanta (GA), Savannah (GA), and Tallahassee (FL). The more rural areas, even today aren’t places I want to live or be after dark.
But in Colorado. The lines weren’t as clearly drawn as much as I remember. I never felt as if I wasn’t “allowed” certain places, but there’d be this undeniable, purposeful dismissal. Being blatantly ignored by whites, openly passed over…in certain places and situations, I would cease to exist. It was WEIRD. Southern whites would look me in my face and deny me – that was clear. In Colorado, they’d smile at everyone, give everyone eye contact, EXCEPT me. “Good morning, may I help you” to the whites who’d walked in before me, and when I crossed the threshold, smiling and ready with my “Hello, how are you?”, suddenly everyone’s attention would be diverted and I’d receive no greeting. I can give you countless examples of this type of treatment in Colorado and not one during my time in the south because as I said, the lines were crystal clear and so I never spent time in places I knew I wasn’t going to be welcomed. In Colorado, that subtle dismissal of my very existences would be at random times, at random places. One day I’d be met with a semblance of respect and a polite attitude, at others, in the same place, I’d be shunned or eyed with great suspicion. As I got older, I realized it was subtle enough to keep me distrustful and always on edge – a state of mind and body that can wreck havoc on sleep, stress levels, and such.
Anyway, be sure to click the link above (Courageous Conversations…) and catch a glimpse at how folks in Denver are gearing up to begin talking about such things and hopefully, create some positive dialog and change in how humans are treated in the MileHi (and maybe beyond).