The fine article written by Max Golding in a recent issue of The Santa Barbara Independent about a City Council meeting on March 21, convened to address “tenant protection issues,” reminded me of my own experience with prejudice when we came here from San Jose in 1959.
We looked several years for a house and were assured by many Realtors, especially after they heard the last traces of my Southern accent, that no blacks would ever live in whatever neighborhood we might choose.
My mother had urged me to leave Mobile as she was afraid I could be maimed or killed defending the black people whom I loved, as they had always been so good to me. She paid our cook’s way to live in New York with her daughter so she would not be hurt if she went to Selma, and my mother knew I would try to protect her.
Later, when we lived in New York one summer and we rode the elevated by the segregated black ghettos there, and also in Philadelphia where we spent two summers, my mother said sadly, “And they don’t even have a space to raise a garden or chickens.” We were told by many of the prejudiced people there that they wished we had “them back in the South.”
A psychiatric consultant I worked with, who lived in Hope Ranch, said she was not aware, as I had been told, that minorities were not allowed to live there. At a dinner party down the street from us, the host, a college professor here, said proudly, ” … and no blacks will ever live in our neighborhood.” I stood up, calling him by his given name, and told him I thought that was disgusting! The party broke up shortly after that.
My compliments to The Independent for bringing this to the attention of many fine people who are not aware of the undercurrent of prejudice that exists in our beautiful city.