More Black Girls in Maine? Oh My!

Considering that one of my paying gigs involves writing about diversity in Maine, it was with great interest that I listened to the findings that were released from the Census Bureau yesterday about the state of Maine. It seems that between 2000 and 2010 Maine’s Black population increased by 132%! In real numbers that means for a state that has a population of roughly 1.33 million folks total, 15, 700 are Black folks or 1.2% of the state’s total population…yikes! That means damn it, I am not the only Black Girl in Maine. Good thing I bought this domain before one of the other Black Girls in Maine decides she wants to get in on this blogging game.

Seriously, I know for readers in more diverse areas those numbers look pathetic but it means in my nine years here there has been some growth. Am I surprised? Nope. When I first moved to Maine, I could go days not seeing another brown face unless I was in Portland, our state’s largest city. I also figured that when went from one Black hair shop in Southern Maine, to 3 including the Black barber there had to be more Black folks here to support 2 salons and 1 barber. Ya know us Black folks we take our coifs quite seriously and I not really kidding.

Practically speaking? It still sucks and frankly as white woman I met recently through a mutual friend who lives here yet is from San Francisco said to me, frankly what passes for diversity in Maine is really just tokenism. After all despite being able to go into our largest city and see folks of color the truth is the average Mainer still has very little real racial diversity in their life. Going and seeing folks of color occasionally in passing don’t really amount to much if deeper connections are not being made. And frankly most of us still have a lot more work to do on that level, yet the numbers give me hope for the future.

First these numbers and the greater demographics of Blacks in the US showed that Blacks who after the great migration were generally found in large urban hubs are starting to realize that the US is larger than New York, Chicago, DC, Detroit and other larger urban areas where we have typically been found. Seems more and more Blacks are actually leaving the urban hubs, granted plenty of us are staying. Yet for many to leave the comfort of large urban areas to move south or heaven forbid to states like Maine in many ways shows some racial maturity among us. For too long we stayed clustered in relative safe havens like Chicago and New York yet now we are branching out across this country realizing shit, life can and does exist outside the urban hubs.

One of the beauties of social media is that I have met other Black Girls residing in states that until recently the idea of seeing Black folks would have been met with a black stare. Interestingly enough we all grapple with the same issues, we like the newer places yet at the same time sometimes that lack of diversity threatens to drive us mad at times yet we normally get away and come back and it works out. (Or if you are me, you are on the fence just waiting to figure it all out or a winning Powerball ticket that will allow me to keep my Maine home and perhaps get a condo in a big city)

Seriously while I am heartened to see the increasing diversity, its only one of many steps needed to change this nation from a melting pot which is frankly gross since sometimes throwing a bunch of stuff in a pot to simmer produces something nasty and inedible. While transforming into a large mixed salad might yield something far healthier and tastier for us all.

4 thoughts on “More Black Girls in Maine? Oh My!

  1. I’m a little perturbed by the tokenism comment. I really don’t feel that way. So that would mean I am just the token black girl? Now while I may be the only black woman around sometimes-token brings to mind that I am only here because white people want me here. That they speak to me because I am the safe mulatto.
    Black people don’t live here because some are them are more comfortable living amongst themselves and to each their own. I like fresh air, friendliness and safety that’s why I live here. Really as I think about I could really give damn about diversity here in Maine. Because unless the man is black the chances of a connection between the black people here are slim to none. So why bother have them here if the black woman is breaking her neck not to make eye contact with me? Let them stay where the hell they at! When I want to see more black people I look in the mirror and I go home to see my family. I’m good.

  2. I hear what you are saying. No we don’t move here to be the token but I do know that I have many interactions especially in my professional life where yeah, I do feel like the token Black chick. My presence allows folks to feel like they are open minded and tolerant and all that bullshit that frankly means nothing. Since 9 out of 10 times the person does or says something that eventually lets me know they aren’t nearly as open minded on race as they like to think they are.

    I agree and we have talked about this before that in many cases (sadly I think) Black folks are here because it allows them to get away from their own kind…hence the sistas who do all they can to avoid eye contact with another sista, etc.

    I won’t deny that raising a kid where without much extended family here does concern me since my girl’s knowledge of Black people is pretty much me and her brother.

  3. Well then dear, we need to go on at least one poor folk road trip this summer so your daughter can mingle. I’m going to NC the last two weeks of August. I’ll ask my guy if you can come with. Yes Down South! And it’s not Orlando lol. My mother’s from the West Indies and the kids are going with her this June (compliments of The King of Zumunda-my brother) and there are going to be in the thick of it.

    Yeah and I think Black folk do here for that. Sometimes depending where you live Black and white are two different things. I can’t lie it is so easier to be broke in Maine.

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