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?

7 thoughts on “Yes, there really are Black folks in Maine”

  1. “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. ”

    LOL! Love it!

  2. One thing I love about Maine is that I feels like were living in the late 80’s early 90’s. I expect to hear Troop and Chuckie Booker come on the radio. And I if I forget to lock my front door, I wake up and I’m not dead. You gotta love that.

  3. I’m from Searsport, Maine and I have to say I wish the state was more diverse. My parents are from NY and PA and I have a [POLISH/RUSSIAN/SLAVIC/ETC] last name which is really Czech and I GET SHIT for it all the time. It seems like there is a lot of xenophobia here in Maine so I can’t even imagine being black here. I can put on a slight Maine accent and nobody knows my last name isn’t Bishop or Hancock or Smith or Jones or Pomeroy or one of the other twenty or so uberly common last names here, but anyone darker than a polar bear in a blizzard doing cocaine sticks out like a.. well like a black person in a poor, uneducated, rural white state.

  4. Girl, I gotta quote this again:

    “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.”

    Y’know? LOL! And I WISH I lived only a few minutes from an ocean!

    Contrary to what Michelle Obama said, there are a LOT more black folks here in Iowa than most people (white, black, both, neither) think. I’m almost used to folks not speaking to each other…been here 3 years and it’s still weird to me but I think that black folks here figure there’s enough of us here so that we don’t have to speak. Coming from Chicago, I beg to differ…and I still try to speak when I can…but it’s not the most pressing issue going on with me right now…

    I belong to a book group consisting entirely of black women, at least half of whom are native Iowans and some of whom have people going back a few generations. Not surprisingly it’s hard to keep young people here and it’s REALLY hard to keep young black people here. I love that there’s an AA history museum here, though…it’s the only one and it represents all of Iowa AA history. Do you have a AA history museum in Maine?

  5. In response to CNN’s Black In America segment & Ms. NAYABA ARINDE -CNN’s ‘Black in America’ keeping the uninformed uninformed, Amsterdam News Editor challenge.
    I too saw the CNN show and was deeply disturbed. I agree with Ms. NAYABA ARINDE. The community has to begin to take on representing ourselves within this arena.

    It is On Portland!
    This is an open call:
    yes, there are and I am ona roll too…In response to thsi blog & CNN’s Black In America, The Mama Africa Show in Portland Maine is actively seeking African Americans to begin to share their experiences about being “Black” and living in Maine, live on the air. In fact, it does not matter where you live. If you have an experience to share, tell us about it. If you want to be interviewed on the show, or know of anybody who does, contact me at http://www.myspace.com/themamaafricashow or at themamaafricashow@gmail.com
    It’s on ya’ll , are you ready?

    Spread the Word! One love, peace
    Lady SoulShine, The Mama Africa show
    WMPG community radio 90.9/104.1 FM sundays 12 – 2pm est
    listen live! http://www.wmpg.org
    on the air # 207.780.4909

  6. I wish there was more diveristy in this state. I have lived here my whole life and it seems people here (for the most part) do not look consider anything outside of their own “experience”. Most rarely venture more than 30 miles outside their community. This is just something I’ve noticed over the years. I am always a little excited every time I see a person of another race up here. It’s like “Hey bring your friends, bring your family”, we need more of a mix up here.

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