Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rant, Rant, Rant, Rant

I saw something today on Twitter that just made my blood boil! I considered responding, but on social media I try not to be too controversial….to be Miss Congeniality….to go with the flow….free speech and all that jazz. Besides, how can I say what I want to say in 140 characters--be short, concise and to the point without sounding like….. well… witchy.

“…..because the suburbs around #Indy are devoid of culture, diversity, & local flavor; our suburbs represent what is wrong with the US.”

Wow! That is one of those comments typically prefaced in a conversation by, “no offense, but….” and you immediately know that it is offensive.

So as a resident of zip code 46033, otherwise known as Carmel, IN, I am what is wrong with this country?? Or maybe not me personally, but my neighborhood, or maybe my township or let’s just say Hamilton County as a whole!! Wow - that is a pretty bold statement!!

In my experience, one can find groups of people devoid of diversity, culture & flavor in most any zip code. Let’s use Broad Ripple for example (not that I have anything against The Ripple, but it’s a good example to see my point of view). Many people would say that Broad Ripple is a center for diversity and culture in the city - - that is, people under the age of 30. If I go to Broad Ripple on any given evening, I see mostly white faces. If I go to the restaurants in Broad Ripple, same thing. Now BR has amazing ethnic restaurants, stores with cute hippy flowers everywhere, the smell of sandalwood and incense and beers for a quarter…but all I see are young, white people (and a few of us oldies but goodies reliving our past on an occasional night out). I actually see more diverse faces here in Carmel at Target than I do there.

Regarding flavor - I guess that is how exactly you define flavor. Growing up in the south, food was meant to be savored and had multiple layers of flavor and texture. I grew up with New Orleans, Memphis, and Dallas cuisine with a dollop of Mississippi Delta cookin in the middle. It was interesting to me a while back to hear a lady remark that southern food had little flavor….that it all tasted the same….fried. Seriously?? She had been eating at southern chains like Dixie CafĂ© way too long!! Southern food is bursting with flavor….and if it's not, we have a bottle of Tabasco right on the table to take care of that. If you expect to find flavor, you will find flavor…..if, however, you are looking for one certain flavor, you may not find it….and be disappointed. You may drive through our neighborhoods and see homogenous homes, but that doesn’t mean that the people inside them are homogenous….or devoid of flavor, culture and interest.

As to culture - culture is of the eye of the beholder. Why is “culture” defined as the dreadlocks, tattooed set ready to protest rally at a moment’s notice? Why is culture defined in one's zipcode - I live on Mass Ave, therefore, I must be cultured.  Can I wear a business suit and still be seen as cultured??  What if it was hiding my tattoos??  What if I cut my hair super short, dyed it blonde and wore men's trousers?  Would I be cultured then??  I am basically the same person with different window dressing....  What if I gave a million dollars to the arts last year and resided in Carmel??  Would I be cultured then??  What if I looked like your average, every-day American woman but who happens to love art, theater, dogs, books, and is learning French and Serbian to complement her basic rudimentary Italian so she can continue to travel the world with her backpack - Am I cultured??  What do I have to do to get into the cultured club (not to be confused with Culture Club and Boy George....and by the way....would HE be considered cultured??)  But I digress....

Is culture simply a prevalence of theaters? What if I don't even go to the theater....can I still be cultured?  Is culture defined by an abundance of people from other countries?

In Hamilton County, there is actually a large number of foreign residents - - just take a look at the soccer fields at Off the Wall Soccer and listen to how many different languages you hear. I have friends in Hamilton County who are Indian, Serbian, Russian, French, Greek, Irish, Spanish, Latino, Lebanese, Swiss, African-American, Turkish, Jewish, Gay, Workaholics, Housewives, Artists, Out of Work, Tree Huggers, Religious Far Right, Hippies, and just plain old whitebread Americans.

But my point does not lie in numbers. I am sure that within the loop, the actual numbers are higher. My point and my issue lie in the perception that the suburbs are what is wrong with the US. While I respect greatly the freedom this person has to say those things, I wonder if she would respect my freedom equally. I have overheard people speaking about the stupidity and selfishness of conservatives - somehow conservative ideals are much inferior, however, if a conservative were to espout these same comments, they would be seen as [gasp] intolerant and subsequently disqualified from the human race.

What is wrong with this country is that we don’t give a damn! That’s right - no matter what your zipcode is, what your color, background, gender, sexual orientation, whatever….we are so busy with our lives that we can’t stop for a moment and give to someone else. We will spend beaucoup dollars helping rescue dogs (albiet a great cause) but we will not help a starving homeless person or help an at-risk child with their homework. We see the suffering in countries such as Sudan, India, and Rwanda and turn a blind eye…not even allowing our hearts to warm up for a moment. Our hearts are cold and we get enjoyment out of attacking each other instead of working together to help others. That is what is wrong with this country. 

Sister Twitter user - I know men and women in the Suburbs who spend their extra time and their extra money (1) mentoring at risk girls, (2) helping under-served women in prisons and elsewhere (3) helping displaced women prepare for job interviews and telling them they are beautiful (4) building schools in distressed countries (5) tutoring children in homeless shelters and on…and on…and on…and on…. Don’t tell me that we, as residents of the suburbs,  are the problem. The suburbs are not the problem. Thought Nazis come in all shapes, colors and creeds - - if the only opinion you EVER find valid is your own, then you are closed-minded. I don’t care if everyone around you agrees with you…if the media agrees with you…if your mentors agree with you…..if you refuse to listen or RESPECT the views of other people…..if you refuse to RESPECT people with a different ideology than you….if you refuse to RESPECT people who live in a different zip code simply because of your PERCEPTION of them, then maybe….just maybe…you are the problem, too.

(picture me handing you a glass of a fabulous red wine as a truce offering)….