Living in the suburbs is great in a lot of ways, but let’s face it, it has its downsides too. Like the fact that suburbanites think Italian is ethnic food. Or that walking for exercise in the mall is perfectly acceptable. Or that you’ll actually get in your car to go see your friend who lives five houses away.
But lately I’m realizing there are a few more serious downsides to living in the burbs. Growing up in the 90’s I learned to be excessively PC, but since blogs are supposed to short and to the point I’m just going to spit it out. Here goes. I haven’t seen a black person in months. I’m not exaggerating. Restaurants, supermarkets, my neighborhood, there are none. Last year I wanted to buy my daughter a black doll and I had to go online to do it. There’s a black person in the White House but apparently not in our local Toys R Us. What is this doing to my children? How do I teach them not to be racist if the only people of color they see are sour patch kids?
I grew up in Dallas where as you can imagine, being racist was practically second nature. I remember three boys in my class dressing up as Mexican landscapers for Halloween. I couldn’t make that up, it’s so wrong. And then there was the time we got in our car after it was detailed at the carwash and I told my mom it smelled like Mexicans. I was five. Thankfully she gave me a verbal lashing I’ll never forget.
So just the other day when Martin Luther King Day came up in front of Zoey, I jumped at the opportunity to have a conversation about it. Here’s how it went.
Me: People are all different colors. And they’re all good. Black and white…
Zoey: … and purple.
Me: Well, no not purple.
Zoey: And green.
Me: (just going with the flow) Okay.
Zoey: And yellow and pink…
Me: Yup, people are all different colors. Like you’re white.
Zoey paused to think for a moment.
Zoey: Like Frosty the Snowman.
Me: (with a sigh) Yes, just like Frosty.
That’s what she took from the conversation? Martin Luther King would be so proud. So now what? Do I take her to the city to see people of color? And how does that go? Honey look, there’s a black man, and there’s an Indian woman… ixnay on the city fieldtrip.
It all makes me think. We moved here for the education, but what kind of education are my kids lacking? Maybe my husband and I will have to discuss it tonight over some good ethnic food at The Olive Garden or some real Mexican food at Chipotle or authentic Chinese at Panda Express. What is happening to me?