I had some wonderful family time with my dad in Ohio. We were in Cleveland, and I enjoyed the urban influence of the city of my birth. We broke up one day with some time at a book store, and another we spent at the zoo's rainforest building. My radar was working overtime - aware that in this Ohio community there were many people of color making up the fabric of daily life. Let me be honest, where I live there is diversity, but it is a mostly white and affluent community. The story of many black americans in our city is that they have relocated from difficult circumstances in nearby Chicago. This looks like the following: the book store in Cleveland had both staff and patrons of color. In my WI neighborhood Barnes and Noble I do not often see either staff or patrons of color. So, my radar is working and I'm working out what this means for my "place" and the place of my family, my family of color.
But, I really started this post to respond to Clare's concerns about class. She raises a good point - and points to class as a concerning "ism" in the discussion. Class and race do intersect. In fact, I am certain that there are mutual influences of class, race, and gender on individual lives. There is a preponderance of evidence that suggests, however, that class does not trump race. There is a very active dialogue "out there" about this very topic. One resource that is worth considering is this piece on "Racialiscious." The author states: "Class and race and two different things which encompass a wide range of experiences and scenarios. They build upon each other. Just like there is no one universal race experience, there is no one universal class experience on any side of the divide. Being upper-class and black is still different from being upper class and white. Being lower-class and white is a different experience from being black and working poor." It's a great piece. Really great. And it's not long - you might want to check it out. The comments are similarly interesting.
Finally, after you do your own investigation, check out this youtube lecture by Tim Wise. He is one of the country's leading anti racist lecturers, and he's a white man. (If he was a black man his comments would be considered to be "whining and complaining" and THAT'S a whole 'nother topic!!) Anyway, I think Tim Wise is worth an hour of your time while you're doing something that allows you to listen. He talks about class and race in a way that really makes sense. Plus, hes' straight forward and intense. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UJlNRODZHA