I don’t get Black people in Howard County (and I am Black all day long). Here’s why I say that. I was having a conversation with a Black woman I run with at brunch yesterday. She and her husband just moved to Howard County last year from Virginia. She said she didn’t like it at first but she was getting used to it. When I asked her what she disliked she said quick as a flash “where are all the normal Black people?” Oh how I laughed at that comment. Some people would have shut her down for that but I have the same question too.
The Blacks in this county seem to all know each other from long ago, grew up here, went to school together, go to the same church, belong to certain social organizations or political clubs, etc. They have somehow congregated here and created a bubble around themselves. To them that is the norm and I respect that. But does anyone ever just hang out without any other prior connection just because they like each other’s company? That is my norm. Do I have to pay a fee just to make a Black friend in Howard County? It’s interesting to me how the rules of engagement work out here. It’s very clique-ish. Almost like high school with bigger bank accounts and mortgages.
I will admit to my own inactivity in this situation. I have only visited one Black church, I refuse to join the NAACP or other political organizations, and I don’t seek membership in social clubs except my sorority. That’s not cool on my part. But when you’ve been rebuffed a certain number of times by people who claim to be just like you but only seem to care about what you think when it’s time to vote, you get a bit jaded. I am also challenged with some social issues within my family which create a wall around us and block us from receiving people for who they are. We’re not the Cosbys over here. It’s hard as hell to find non-judemental people to consort with when you’ve got these kind of things going on in your household. But didn’t we all learn to reach out to the new kid in school and make him or her feel welcome? The one Black family that lives in my neighborhood ignored the hell out of my family when we first moved here years ago and only recently have learned to open their mouths to speak. There’s a fine welcome right there. I’m not criticizing people for sticking with the familiar because I am guilty of that too but put yourself in other people’s shoes once in awhile. You’ll see how bad it is on the outside.
I’m disappointed by it all but I won’t give up just yet. I will smile whenever I see a Black face in my neighborhood and welcome any new neighbors no matter what color they are. I will try to visit a new church and see how that goes (although I don’t have high hopes for that. Some of the most sinister people I’ve ever met were church folks.) I will get my kids involved in an activity or two and try to make nice with the other moms instead of reading a book or leaving. In other words, I will try to be a friend if I truly want to make a friend. Let’s see if the Blacks that I encounter will meet me halfway. I’ll let you know how it goes.