Monday, October 15, 2012

Ya Just Don’t SEE That Around Here!

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I drive a bit slower than most folks, so it was no surprise when the quarter-ton with the Illinois plates shot around me. The driver certainly got my attention, though. It wasn’t because of his goatee, his youth, or his handsome (yet almost delicate) good looks. It was because he was black. Ya just don’t see black guys driving pickup trucks in my neck of the woods!

I think that’s because, in my area, pickup trucks are equated with the farmer/country-boy/red-neck/hillbilly side of our local culture. For whatever the reason, we have no black farmers to speak of in all of West Virginia. Maybe they just have more sense than the rest of us, or maybe, when their ancestors were finally freed from forced farm work, they left the countryside as fast as their legs could carry them. You couldn’t blame them if that was the case.

Regardless, as I was growing up, vehicles belonging to blacks fell into three categories. First was the same-as-everybody-else-has working-class car. Second was the Mercedes and such that were preferred by those blacks who had “arrived” and wanted everyone to know it. Us white folks have plenty of the same type of folks; for a long time, we called them yuppies. Third was the furry-dashed, fuzzy-diced pimp-mobile. Being a small town, we probably only had about three of those in the whole town. One thing we didn’t have, though, was blacks in pickup trucks.

I was 28 years old the December that my dad and I went to D.C. to clean out the apartment of my deceased aunt. Driving through Virginia, for the absolute first time in my life, I saw black folks driving pickup trucks! My dad, who was a little better travelled than me, found my amazement amusing. “We’re in farm country,” he said. “What would you expect a black farmer to drive?” I pointed out that I’d never seen but one black farmer before, and HE drove a white Cadillac!

It’s been nigh 30 years since that time, and I’m not sure that I’ve seen a single pickup in my area driven by a black person in all that time. Yes, I’ve travelled a little since back then, and I HAVE seen such things in other areas, but not locally. I don’t know if the young man was a farm-boy or not, but he DID have Illinois plates, and he WAS heading west. I guess I live a rather narrow existence here, so maybe it’s good that I get rare reminders that my area doesn’t necessarily represent the rest of the world. © 2012
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12 comments:

Michelle said...

I have to admit that is one of the things I love about living on the West Coast. I went to grade school in SoCal and had black (American and African), Hispanic, Asian and white schoolmates. Where I live now in Oregon things are a little more "vanilla," but still so much more diverse than the Midwest (TX, KS, NE and MN) where I've lived. Here no one (that I know of) notes the type of vehicle or color of the driver, and I LIKE it that way!

Gorges Smythe said...

Since the country has ceased to be a "melting pot" I'm not sure we have anything to gain by so-called "diversity," but it's a fact of life. Still, You can keep So-Cal. West Virginia is slowly getting more like the rest of the country socially, but we've still got our hills! ;-)

Michelle said...

Heh; this reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw recently. "Welcome to America; now speak Cherokee!" My grandfather, who was NOT a first-generation American, went to a German-speaking school in Missouri until he was 16. I DO think we can gain a lot by diversity; being "homogenous" is overrated. If America was truly a melting pot we'd probably all be a rich caramel color! You couldn't pay me enough to live in SoCal again, but the experience of living there had its benefits, as all experiences do.

Linda said...

I used to live on a street in Montreal that was favoured by people who bought and sold drugs...the illegal kind. One day I saw a car with a license plate that said, "Answer my prayers...steal this car." I thought to myself, boy, are you ever on the right street for that. I am grateful that I moved away from that area, it has been 15 years now.

Sixbears said...

If I never left my area, there's a lot of things I would never see either. That's life in low population, rural, off the beatten path places.

Baby Sis said...

Hmmm - Michelle - never heard Texas referred to as the Midwest before, but perhaps you've never had the blessing of visiting us. And we're pretty diversified down here, too. We don't care what color our ranchers are, so long as they take care of family and livestock, and say "Howdy" along the way.

Mary Ann said...

My dad, who has been gone since '69, always said that one day American would be all one color... and we're on our way to it, I hope... it will be interesting to see the new cafe au lait American.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

It was quite shocking to find just how different and similar other parts of the country are when I started truckin' from coast to coast. I felt right in home in West Virginia, but California and southern Florida were very strange areas to me--even more so than around NYC! In fact, you might find yourself quite at home in northern New Jersey and upstate New York.

Susie Swanson said...

It's kinda like that here Gorges. You hardly ever see any blacks in the country but we've come along way from what we used to be.. My grandchildren go to schools in North Georgia and they don't have any blacks at all.. I live just across the line in N.C. and our schools here are half and half...

Angela said...

I'm starting to see a little more black people when I go out into town. Mostly mixed couples. You do notice it when you have grown up with never seeing any black people hardly at all. The college I went to was probably 90% black. About 2 weeks ago I actually was shocked to see 3 black guys out my road riding 4-wheelers! Now that's a sight you don't see in my neck of the woods in West Virginia! Now I want to make it clear that I am not a racist. Those are just the facts. There aren't many black people in many parts of West Virginia.

Gorges Smythe said...

Michelle, the way I see it, diversity is good for curiosity and "social studies," while homogenization, especially of religion and ethnicity (whether original or adapted), is best for making a strong nation.

Linda, as we both know (and Michelle pointed out), there's something to be gained from nearly everything. But, I'd say we all have experiences we'd prefer not to repeat! ;-)

Good point, Sixbears.

Makes sense, Baby Sis!

No doubt you're right, Jerry.

You know, Susie, if more blacks had stayed on the farm, the racial tensions might not have been so pronounced over the years, since I think a lot of the attitudes we consider "black" may be more a matter of being from "the big city."

I believe more blacks are starting to live in the country again, Angela. Maybe they've discovered that some of their own prejudices were off a little, too.

Michelle said...

We lived in the Panhandle (Hereford area), which is just under OK, KS and NE, which everyone I knew called the Midwest. Yes, I know some people call TX "the South," and some people call points east "the Midwest;" but to me the middle section of the country is the Midwest, north to south.