Whether my 50’s era parents chose their life in the suburbs due to racial considerations or were simply following the trend to find affordable post war housing, the effect was the same. The west suburban central Indiana communities were largely small farming towns rapidly on their way to becoming bedroom sprawl to their larger urban neighbor. These communities were almost homogenously white. Growing up there, I knew no one of another race. And how did this affect my life? Well, I didn’t think too much about it. As a child, adolescent & young adult it seemed normal. My schools were white. I chose to go to a small college, Presbyterian & predominantly white. When it came time ultimately to find a place to raise our family, we moved home … to west suburban Indianapolis.. still white after all these years. However, primarily through the work world, I began to “come to” and realize that my white world wasn’t the only reality. I find myself today sometimes saddened by not knowing the “other.” This breeds fear & distrust when there need not be any. We have not enjoyed each other’s company or shared different food, or taken part in varied family & cultural traditions. In very tangible ways we have missed out by holding ourselves apart. Why? It didn’t seem consciously done, we just gravitate to what we know, what feels normal & comfortable in making life’s choices.
Our kids however are making different choices. Both live in large urban centers. They engage this life with their spouses and enjoy it completely. They have opportunity to live side by side with every ethnicity, gay or straight, young or old. How did this happen? I do not know. There lives will be more complete, richer. Good for them and good for all of us.