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