Yes, there really are Black folks in Maine

I originally wrote this post in 2008, but considering the number of people who find my blog by searching for Black people in Maine, it’s still worth reading. Hope to have some new posts up soon, but work and life are kicking my butt!

I was recently surfing and reading other blogs as I do almost daily, and I posted a comment on another blog and some idiot actually questioned whether I was really in Maine, after all there are no Black folks in Maine or New Hampshire as the not so enlightened poster told me.

Anyway being that its Monday and I getting back into my weekday groove, I figure that I would let that comment launch me into a post for today.

Maine is geographically large but population wise its a small rural state, in the northeast corner of the United States, we border the ocean, Canada and New Hampshire and while it it is one of the whitest states in the US, there are Black folks here along with Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, and a host of other folks.

When I moved here 6 years ago from Chicago, it used to amuse me when I would either be back in Chicago or traveling someplace and somehow the fact that I lived in Maine would come up… honestly no matter the race of the person I was talking to, they would look at me like a space martian with what I call the does not compute look on their face. At first I used to get a kick out of that look but a certain point, it just started to irritate me. I mean really, what the hell is so unbelievable about a Black woman in Maine? Yes,its cold here and it snows a lot. Then again I am from the mid-west where it also gets cold, actually in winter its colder back in Chicago then here, that said Maine gets more snow hands down.

The next best question is what do you do in Maine? Um… I don’t know, what the fuck do you do anywhere? Seriously, I live life, I work, manage my home, tend to my kids, catch a movie occasionally, eat, you know shit you can do anyplace. Really life does not stop when you are Black and you cease to live in areas with large numbers of other Black folks. That said, I am also not the only Black person in Maine, I have Black friends here, most who have been here a lot longer than me. There are also generations of Black folks here, many whom are very involved in the Black community. Oddly enough I think living here makes us get involved in a way that I never would have done when I lived in Chicago.

Now I will admit that I did not willingly move to Maine, there were a lot of pressing reasons that I had to move here but after 6 years, one house and one more kid, I can’t say that I am rushing to leave at the moment. Yes, I do occasionally deal with racism but the reality is when you are Black in America you deal with racism, no matter where you live. In some ways what I deal with here bothers me less than when I was in Chicago, to some degree I can excuse someone who don’t kniw better over the many liberal white folks I used to know back in Chicago who did racist and thoughtless shit on a daily basis.

In the end, I wonder why is it that folks both Black and White continue to see Black folks as this monolithic group steeped in stereotypes hence when they see someone not in the Black box, they can’t figure it out. Maybe its because we are all individuals in the 21st century so really Black folks in Maine, Black folks playing golf or tennis or hell Black folks running for POTUS should cease to be seen as exotic but as part of being individuals doing their thing. After all I know now that not all white folks are rich nor do they all smell like wet dogs (see those are also some silly stereotypes). Its this type of thinking that just keeps us focused on the shit that divides rather on the things that might make us realize we share a lot more in common, especially in the age of financial struggle.

All that said, at the moment I am cool with life in Maine, after all when you live a few minutes from the ocean how can you not dig on that?

Race card… whose really playing it?

Can I just saying I am starting to get really bored by the current election season, its like damn lets just get to November and vote already. Seriously, it seems like this shit has just being going on and on, so much that honestly I have lost a bit of my enthusiasm especially once my man Obama got the nomination and started acting a little strange. That said, I sure as hell ain’t voting for crazy ass McGrampy so unless some real nasty shit comes out about my man Obama, he’s got my vote.

That said, I woke up this morning as I do most mornings listening to NPR and heard the latest in this long crazy trip known as an election season, seems McGramps said Obama played the race card from the bottom of the deck… dayum, he played it from the bottom? For real? Thankfully being NPR, they then played a snippet of what Obama said and well in quick paraphrasing he essentially said that there are some who would tell you I am scary because I don’t look like the other cats who have ran for president, my name is funny, yada, yada.. Um, tell me something I don’t know… shit, how many emails have gone out this year basically saying because the man’s name is Barack Hussein Obama he is a Muslim and ya know them Muslims are scary. Come on, didn’t Hillary herself use coded racial language, like hard working folks aka white folks.

I must admit that after I heard the story, I laughed, shit was funny until I stopped to think about something that I went through last year where I was accused of playing the race card. Long story short, I was teaching at a school where I was only 1 of 2 teachers with an advanced degree, I was the only person of color and after being promised a ft gig with benefits after being worked like a Hebrew slave, I was let go, given some bullshit ass reason. Well turned out a sista was the lowest paid instructor at that joint despite having more education than only one other person, well as you can imagine, my Chicago side came out when I was being let go and I called bullshit. Anyway I was told I was playing the race card, former boss lady got all red in the face and huffy when I said basically I had been screwed and was pissed, of course by throwing in the ole race card, she threw me off my game for a minute. The end is not really relevant since I have been blessed since leaving that shit-hole ass job.

My point though is that incident coupled with many others have revealed to me that it seems when white folks get uncomfortable with Black folks especially us loud mouth ones who won’t back the fuck down, we are accused of using the ole race card. However it seems to me if anything its them using the race card, seems when you are white, you can tell a person of color especially a Black person they are using the race card and it will prevent said white person from taking a look at themselves and taking personal responsibility about a situation.

Call me crazy, but by the rules many whites seem to live under that is definitely playing the race card and playing it from the bottom. No, McCain is feeling bitter and clinging to outdated ideas, so its better to attack Obama on bullshit than to create his own real platform.

McGrampy, shame on you for playing the race card, by the way is that the Amex Black card you have?

Racial Progress or Not

I am back from my weekend hiatus, so nice to be back online. Anyway while relaxing with the family this weekend, we went on a drive in the country to visit a local farm. During that drive, we saw a house that had a rather large lawn jockey on the yard, of course the lawn jockey happened to be Black. Now as a Black woman, seeing that damn thing pissed me off, but what followed has left me pondering are we making progress or not as a society when it comes to race.

While I was ranting and raving over how I should go and smash the what to me was offensive lawn jockey, my 16 year old son who is biracial asked me why? Now this is a kid who has been fed a healthy dose of Black culture since day 1 (he also reads Mama’s blog), but as he explained to me he was not offended by the site of the lawn jockey because to him he viewed it much like how some Jewish folks view the Holocaust and strongly believe that they must never forget what happened. He feels that we as Black people must never forget the past and imagery like that offensive lawn jockey should keep us focused. I will admit for a moment Mama was like WTF? On the other hand many baby boy has a point, perhaps if some of these so-called ballers and rappers came upon these offensive images, they would be less likely to be creating their own offensive images. Since whenever elder boy is home, I inevitably end up watching some MTV or VH-1 and am absolutely dumbfounded over how we (we as in Black folks) now have no problem creating imagery on our own that makes us look like buffoons. Of course the reality is that coonery and buffoonery sells and the biggest buyers of this are not people of color… no its white folks. What the hell does that say about us as a society?

On another note speaking to racial progress, I woke up this morning as I always do listening to NPR and was listening to the Monday report on the election season and heard a rather interesting tidbit. Seems that there is still questions on whether or not Barack Obama can close the deal with working class whites and actually get them to vote for him. The report I heard this morning, mentioned that in states like Michigan and Ohio, two places I would not want to live since economically they are the pits, it seems the working class folks are not buying what Obama is selling. Now back when Hillary was still in the picture, this same issue was mentioned, why couldn’t Obama close the deal?

Come on now, you don’t need to be a Rhodes scholar to figure this out… race. Now I know some will say, why you gotta make this about race? Look who in their right mind votes against their own economic self interest? In America its lower income white folks who believe that people of color and them damn immigrants are stealing their jobs and whatnot, so rather than vote for change that might bring a few jobs back to them, they will vote for anyone else.

I am not saying Obama is perfect, personally since clinching the nomination he has pissed me off, that said, voting for McCain seems like economic suicide since in essence we will be getting a third Bush term as far as policies. Yet racism is deeply ingrained is the fabric of this nation, so economic well-being be damned, anything is better than a Negro in charge.

Guess the question for me is are we really making racial progress? Personally I am on the fence about this…