short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ignore Stereotypes

Having lived in many regions of the United States -- New England, the deep South, Texas (which is a region unto itself), California (another region unto itself), Washington, DC, a couple of Northeastern cities, the Southwest, and the Northeast -- I have run into all kinds of people. It would be easy to stereotype them, but it would not be accurate to do so. Within every region, there are many individuals who are unique. It is difficult to see how prejudices can develop from differences in skin color, language, or other traits that place a person into a particular group because usually any one person within a given group differs as much from others in the group as groups do from each other. Each person is, after all, an individual.

For this reason, my husband and I were surprised to find a black-white delineation in a suburb of Pittsburgh in which we lived in the mid-1980s. We had not noticed that blacks lived in one part of town and whites in another until after we bought our house.

Five years later, it was time for us to move on. We did not want to sell our house so we announced that it was for rent. A friend of a friend suggested a nice family with four children (we also had four children) and a single mother, and I went to meet the family where they were then living. The children were well cared for as was the apartment. It looked like we were going to be very lucky. One does not always get that quality of tenant.

So I suggested that the mother, whom I will call Kathy, come look at our house. Kathy liked it immediately but asked our mutual acquaintance to double-check that we were okay with her and her children. The reason for the caution? Kathy's youngest child, a quiet, cute little boy, had a black father, the man she was currently dating. So, who cared?

Apparently, many people. Kathy told us that she had had trouble finding a place to rent because whites did not want a half-black child in their neighborhood and blacks did not want three white children in their neighborhood. The boy was a darling, and, of course, we rented to the family.

I have no idea why other landlords would be so opposed to a potential tenant based on skin color, but I do know what other landlords missed out on. The man Kathy was dating and eventually married turned out to have many skills. Larry painted our entire house inside and out at no cost. He wanted to make it clean and fresh for the children. He fixed anything that broke. Ultimately, he helped us fix up a small apartment that was part of the house so that an elderly friend of his could move in. Most tenants put a lot of wear and tear on a house. These tenants improved our house. Ignoring stereotypes not only allowed us to get to know some good and kind people, it also improved our property value!


Excerpted and adapted from a collection of vignettes, copyright 2003.

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About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.