Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint you can on it. - Danny Kaye

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Race, Culture and the Big City

I’m returning to normalcy finally and coming down off of my ‘dancing high’ after a weekend getaway to Atlanta where my friends and I were celebrating another dear friend’s upcoming nuptials.  This was her last big “single” girls’ weekend before tying the knot on December 4th.  It was another fun weekend with my college friends where we dressed up, ate fancy meals, tried to be more chic than normal, chatted a lot, gossiped even more and just plain out had a good time. 

One thing that stood out to me during our trip to the big city this past weekend was how different it is than my current hometown.  I feel at times that where I live and work is a place that has little to no culture in it.  I feel that it’s a city somewhat ‘behind the times’ when it comes to diversity, the arts, shopping, music and visitor hospitality.  But I don’t want to harp on this subject or where I live, heck I’ve lived in the same place for 10+ years, so there’s something to say for that, but you know what I mean…

So back to the big city and the differences I saw…to be honest and frank I just felt like a minority almost the entire time.  It was something that I so rarely experience it was almost an eye-opener to an extent.  I never felt out-of-place being what felt like the minority, nor did I even really pinpoint it to anyone…I just sort-of took it all in stride and went with it.  Every place we went (from the chic bar at the top of our hotel, to the hotel staff, to the dance club ‘Opera’) I realized one thing…no one there judged, no one treated me differently and no one didn’t want to talk…is that bad to have multiple negatives in one sentence?  But seriously, I felt as if everyone was out this weekend with the best intentions…to meet other people, chat and see or be seen…and that’s pretty much why I was there, too…and of course to celebrate the future bride-to-be!

As I took in my weekend on the ride back home I had to relish on one major thing.  Although there were so many people from different races around me and different cultures among us, not once did I feel uncomfortable.  Coming from a smaller city and going to the big city, I think there is a lot to be said for experiencing differences.  I think it makes you appreciate people more, to judge less, to be patient, to be kind, to be compassionate and understanding, and to enjoy yourself no matter the surroundings.  I hope that maybe I will carry these lessons with me each day as I go forward, but I know that in the end I am also returning to my life of less diversity, less race, a little less culture and the smaller city.


Liz Bridges said...

I love how you call it the "big city." Every time we go to Charlotte, and Sadie starts seeing the tall buildings, she says, "Mommy? Are we in the big city now?"

But seriously, you are very right. Big cities are soooooo different, in good and bad ways. When we go to malls in Charlotte, you can see so many other cultures represented. In a few weeks there is a Puerto Rican festival in Charlotte! You'd never see that in Rock Hill. And this week the UniverSOUL Circus is going on... an all-African-American circus. You'd never see either one of those events in Rock Hill, mainly because the city isn't big enough to really support it.

I've also learned that sometimes you have to go LOOKING for those cultural events in your hometown because often, they are happening, but it's not going to come up on your radar.

Glad you had so much fun!!!

Kate said...

When I was living in Atlanta for seminary, Dan's aunts came down for another of their nephew's graduation from Emory. We got to visit during some of their off-time, and I took them to the MLK museum. It just so happened that, at the time of our visit, a street festival was going on in MLK's neighborhood - Sweet Auburn. It was row after row and stand after stand of food vendors, stages for music and dance, and political and religious organizations.

Dee and Wendy, who have lived in Iowa for going on 40 years, were absolutely blown away. They were so charged up by the intensity of the culture in one place, and the immense pride of that culture, in this case African American, as they had the opportunity to display their history and talents.

So yes, I'm with Liz - seek it out. It might be out of the comfort zone, but it's so worth it. And I'll just go ahead and add, you won't find fried food anywhere as good as at the Sweet Auburn Festival!