Thursday, February 18, 2010

Melting Pot

When I was growing up right here in Boise, many, many, many years ago, it was a pretty homogeneous place. Yeah - like homogenized milk - pretty much all white.

In fact, different-colored folks were a rarity. We had maybe 2 at my elementary school - Roosevelt.

I remember going home with a friend for lunch. He's a member of a well-known, well-heeled Warm Springs Avenue family. (For those who aren't from around here, Warm Springs is the "old money" street in town.) Lo and behold... his family had a black maid! It's probably the closest I'd ever been to a non-white person! She made us chicken noodle soup and bologna sammiches for lunch. (Pretty pedestrian fare, for such hoity-toity folks!) I ate the soup, but didn't want a sammich... because I had seen her touching the bread! What was going through my 8-year-old brain? I don't know... maybe I was afraid I might "catch it" from her!

Years have passed, and times have changed. I've lived in, and visited, places where white folks are the decided minority. I've learned that even if I'm exposed to non-Caucasians, I'll still be a white guy. I'd eat that bologna sammich in a heartbeat, now!

Boise isn't as "white" as it once was.

When I ate lunch on Warm Springs, I'd guess it was 98% white.

But on my very-typical bike ride to work today, 48 years or so later, I waved at the Hispanic guy who lives down the street. I said "good morning" to the crossing guard near the school. (He's an older gentleman with a cheerful face, and I don't think he's from around here. He always says "goot morneenk" back to me, but he probably doesn't know a lot of English.) I saw an Asian-looking young gal riding her bike - in a T-shirt! (It was pretty chilly this morning! Hopefully she didn't have far to go.) And I saw a tall, beautiful black woman, dressed in flowing, sequined robes, standing at the bus stop... and blowing bubbles with her bubble gum! Sweeet!

I think we're better off, with a little more cultural diversity.


Anonymous said...

While there is more diversity today than way back when, Boise is still a largely white city. How much you ask? According to this website:

drum roll please..... 92.2%. Not much change. I do believe more diversity is a good thing, just that Boise is still one of the most white bread big towns in the country.

Bikeboy said...

I would've guessed around 90%. Yes... Boise is NOT the poster city for cultural diversity. Just a little more now, than 40 or 50 years ago.

(Bicycling provides a few opportunities to interact with the diverse population, that driving doesn't afford.)