Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New and Different

I moved to a new city, hired two new staff people, fired one, moved into a new office, inaugurated a new president and started a new workout regime all since December. If I were to take one of those stress tests that measures change I'd probably be off the radar. It's all good, though - because for the most part I like change. New and different have never freaked me out in fact I get bored easily so new and different are around quite frequently.

The new city has been interesting because it's nothing like the old city. This is the first time in my life where I've ever lived someplace where I haven't laid roots or dug my heels in because I'm too busy looking back at the old place as better. Not East Orange for Foxboro, not Irvington for Franklin, not anywhere. My mantra has always been the party is where I'm at. I make the party..but I can't quite get the party started here.

I'm struggling to find a church home - I like one community, my kid likes another. They could NOT be any more different. The only thing they have in common in Jesus. One is large one isn't. One has contemporary music and video screens one doesn't. One is in the burbs, one is downtown. Lots of stuff. I gotta pray through it.

There's also the diversity...or lack thereof. I told my hub when we first moved down here, I went a good two months before seeing a black man in a suit. I saw lots of black men on wanted signs because the police department uses electronic billboards to post information on wanted criminals. Every time I saw one of those faces I wondered for how many people was that the only black male face they saw in the town. I was also hard pressed to find non-white folks in the grocery store, Walmart, anyplace. I guess we were on the wrong side of town for that - or whatever. Is there a right and wrong side of town to expect interaction with folks of different races, ethnicities and socio-economic status?

The one thing that really killed me though was when people would tell me "Oh, you'll love it here. It's a great place to raise a family." I know I looked so dumb when they said that to me because I couldn't believe it. Until I realized that the things that make a place great to raise a family for ME...was of course not the same things that make a place great to raise a family for other folk.

So what do you do? Well, there is that cliche about being the change you want or whatever. If I value diversity - then I need to live it. I need to stop sucking my teeth when my kid is the only kid of color at summer camp or one of few at kid's choir or baseball. Dig my heels in and represent the best I can, right? I had a great black mama moment when I went on the 3rd grade field trip. All the kids on my watch had anti-bacterial gel applied to them constantly (no I didn't ply vaseline on their faces, although it was cold and if I had of had some with me...), they also got covered with a blanket when it was cold..and in the best moment of all, my hand did go on my hip and I did yell at the top of my lungs to about a dozen kids who did exactly what I told them..even though none of them shared DNA with me. I wonder what THAT dinner conversation was like when they got home.

If I want a community where the arts are important - then I gotta take my kid not only to the African American museum, but to the art museum and the children's museum and stop sucking my teeth that they are not as good as the old city. Of course they aren't the old city's are older and have more money and you can do more and be more when you're older and have more money.

So I guess I gotta cut the new place some slack. New and different never really meant better or worse for me, I guess there was just more new and different stuff to keep my mind off of the old and same stuff I was leaving.