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Things are different now

March 27, 2011

As I write this, I’m sitting at the Hilton in Altamonte Springs, Florida. My wife and I are chaperoning for my daughter’s Model UN conference. It’s a nice opportunity to get away and sit on my butt and write, while periodically ferrying high schoolers from the hotel to a meal, then back again.

I attended high school in rural upstate New York. For us, diversity meant that some of the white people I lived around went to the Catholic Church, some went to the Methodist church, and some were (gasp!) Baptists. And many didn’t go at all. Diversity at the dinner table, meant having lasagna–Italian food is ethnic, after all–rather than the typical meat-and-potato combination.

While my experience may not have been typical, it wasn’t atypical, either, for the 1970s in my part of the world.

This weekend’s a good signpost of how different things are. Of the high school kids we brought to the conference, my daughter and two others were what we’d have considered white back in the day. One of the girls I was driving around spoke fluent French to her parents when they called–except for the references to Cold Stone Creamery, Glee, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Part of the difference is the location: Tampa, Florida isn’t Galway, New York. Among other things, it has a strong Cuban community. Even so, most of our neighborhood with white, with a few Hispanics and blacks. But my daughter’s International Baccalaureate program in high school has people from everywhere.

It’s different now.

And yet, as I write my current work in progress, I’m struck my the names I’ve picked for people. Jim, Colleen, Audra, Scott, Wendy, Denise, and Vic. I’m not describing them as any particular ethnicity, but they’re probably white.

Then again, I’m so white, if I ran around naked in the snow, you’d consider that camouflage.

Things are different now.

How do you account for the differences in your work?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 27, 2011 11:48 am

    I grew up in Texas, a Baptist, in a white society – in the 40s & 50s. We went to school with Hispanics if they lived in our school districts. But integration hadn’t happened yet. the summer of my sophomore year in high school we moved to Louisville, KY and a fully integrated school system. There had been no fights when this happened, but they had certainly had a bruhaha with coeducation!

    Yes, it is a different world. I find it vastly curious and eye-opening. The most astounding discoveries today are that so many college basketball players (I’m a fan of Baylor Lady Bears!) are 2nd generation Americans from around the world – talk about different names! We should have a universe of names to choose from for our stories.

    Good one, Chris!

    Mary Lois

  2. March 27, 2011 12:01 pm

    As I child of the 60’s I can relate to your interesting observation. Having grandchildren the age of your daughter, I have this observation. The race, nationalities, religious preferences are constant. What has changed is that these remarkable young adults have evolved embrace color blindness.

    What a better world. We now can appreciate each other without boundaries of separation. A friend is just that…, a friend. No longer does the friend have a label. The black girl, the white boy, the chink, the half white, the half black are all just friends.

  3. March 27, 2011 12:03 pm

    As I child of the 60′s I can relate to your interesting observation. Having grandchildren the age of your daughter, I have this observation. The race, nationalities, religious preferences are constant. What has changed is that these remarkable young adults have evolved embrace color blindness.
    What a better world. We now can appreciate each other without boundaries of separation. A friend is just that…, a friend. No longer does the friend have a label. The black girl, the white boy, the chink, the half white, the half black are all just friends.

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