I grew up in Alabama in the 1960s and 1970s
In spite of the federal government’s best effort
We lived in a fairly white world, though as I grew older,
we had a greenhouse, actually 28 greenhouses
and as we lived in Macon County where over 90% of the population
were, and probably still are African American,
We employed many blacks in our greenhouses and my brother and I
became friends with some, though i always wondered if one can truly be friends
with someone who had the ability to fire you or promote you at any whim.
Be that as it may, we were as friends as we could be. When i moved to South florida,
I had a few coworkers at Pepsi whom I considered to be my friends, black and white alike,
though all of them i have drifted away from as it has been 20 years since I left there.
As both an employer of construction workers in our family business,
I had the opportunity to hire help as we needed. Whenever I had the opportunity,
I tried to hire the best I could find.
Because we were working in folks homes, and because of our clientele
who brought their prejudices to our projects, whenever we did hire African American, or even Hispanics
there was a double standard, they had to be very clean and neat and well behaved
more so than we expected from our white employees.
later i worked as a salesman for a skilled contruction workers, we had a few carpenters who were African American
As we served firms who built primarily on Palm Beach, and as many of their clientes were exxtremely biased,
The owner of the company discouraged me from trying to place any black carpenters
At one point I had the priveledge to place two black men who both were very good trim carpenters. At one point one
of the most racist jerks we ever did business with needed two good trim guys.
These two were the best I had. I explained to him they were very good and if he had any problems
he could send them back at any time and we would credit him for the day.
Not only did he not fire them, he demanded them the next time he needed carpenters.
Later, I hired one of them on a regular basis to help with some high end bathroom remodeling I did.
I tell all of this to say I have had a very limited intergrated life. Aside from a few poets I have known in real life and on line,
Of course i was married into a Hispanic lady for over a decade so i had a fairly large network of Hispanic friends and family, though,
again, upon leaving the marriage, over time, most of those friendships faded away.
When we lived in Pineapple Park in West Palm Beach, we lived on a street that was maybe 1/2 white, 1/4 hispanic, and 1/4 black.
Christopher had as many friends of color as he did white. Now we live in a suberban gated community, though nowhere as upscale as that sounds,
And while our next door neighbors are Blacks from somewhere in the Carribean, we do not really have any friends here.
The public school he goes to is pretty diverse, tohugh his Gifted classes seem to be far and away mostly white with almost no blacks and very few hispanics,
the strings program that he is part of is even whiter, and recently,
because his best freind’s father is a retired Professional ballet dancer, and because Christopher loves to dance, now that the father has started offering dance lessons
we signed Christopher up for an all boys ballet and strengthening class in North Palm Beach. At orientation and registration, all i saw was a see of white.
I dont want to force some kind false hip urban cool integrated lifestyle on him, but i am not comfortable with him being raised in a more segregated society than i was.
He does go to a city run aftercare program where nearly half the children and at least half the staff are Black, but i wonder what message we are sending him? I worry that a true and honest intergration of our society
is still a few more generrations away, and that makes me sad.
Am I missing something? say the big picture? i dont know. I just didnt think america 2013 would be quite like this.