In my own hometown, Superior, Wisconsin, there was exactly one black family, the Turner’s. They owned the Billings Park cafe. The “other side of the tracks” was the North End of town where most of the low-income housing was. I would say the income disparity created a wider divide growing up for me than race did? (Which is funny in itself since we too lived paycheck to paycheck, but, my parents owned their home.) It isn’t to say racism didn’t exist, because with one black family in town, who everyone knew, you can bet that if an unidentified person of color showed up somewhere eyebrows were raised. I remember lots of slurs that if I heard people using today would immediately lead me to call them out. But I don’t think it was until I went to college that I had any real sense of diversity beyond the different Scandinavians and some Native Americans I grew up with.
I have a lot to learn on how to be an ally to people of color. While I would like to believe I’ve always recognized that and tried to be “a good person” I’m realizing now that complacency is not okay, but growth and vulnerability are.