We met with the realtor and viewed the house and signed the lease today.
And we are filled with longing and hope and dreams for the future.
The house is the final piece of the puzzle, the last large decision for awhile.
And the rest is all new couches and moving trucks and utilities and rent.
But I’ve been frustrated in most conversations I’ve had about our new home.
Because Oak Cliff has crime and “bad” neighborhoods and grafiti and gangs.
I know it’s all true. I believe the anecdotes and the statistics. I’m not shocked.
But today takes the cake because the realtor was so pleased that we’re white.
He didn’t say that exactly, but he had clear names for others who called him.
“Those people and their 8 children,” they have “baby mama drama,” you know.
And he told us about the “400 pound black man” and the “crack-whore.”
He regaled us with tales living in Oak Cliff with “Mexicans” and their guns.
“This street,” though, “is safe and clean.” It’s an island in a dark sea.
I don’t know what bothers me most about these conversations.
Is it that people I love have named the fear that locks them in suburbia?
Or is it that I’ve worked hard to convince the same people that it is safe?
Is it that the realtor and our future neighbor spewed racism for 2 hours?
Or is it that we nodded and smiled and wrote the man a check?
I’m sure that we don’t have the experience to act like “safety” doesn’t matter.
And I know that I have deeply held prejudice against those not like me.
I’m an academic and could argue for the systemic causes of poverty.
And for white, middle-class complicity in the oppression of poor people of color.
But I’ll just say: my education and money do not make me superior to “them.”
And it most assuredly does not mean that I live better than “they” live.
Oak Cliff is a mixed bag. It has seedy spots and it has elegant spots.
Some places have bars on the windows while others have clean landscapes.
But this is what we want. We’re living in the city for the vibrancy and diversity.
And while our privilege means we could build a fortress, we refuse to do so.
Instead we will rub shoulders and shop with those who are different from us.
And we will live an open and simple life, finding love amidst tangled humanity.