One Day at HCC

I grew up in a really white town. There is a large Latino population in the region, but segregation, though informal, is very considerable, and most Latinos lived in areas away from whites. Meaning I was usually one of two or three people of color in my class at school. There was a smattering of people of all races, other than white and Latino. For example, at my high school of 1400, I think there were about 8 “Asians,” including myself. (My brother told me yesterday that he has friends that refer to such places as “counting places”- towns or locations where you note the presence of every poc besides yourself. When my sister came to Austin recently, she would point out every desi person on the street even though I was like, dude, you are going to count over 100 desis in the next hour if you keep this up.)

Then I escaped and went to college on the west side and after that, I lived in Seattle, where there are definitely more people of color, but the character of the place can still be considered very “white.” This is not to downplay the histories of Natives, Black folks, Latinos or Asians in these places. Our history there is incredible, and our presence notable. There remain neighborhoods which are historically Black or Asian. But the overall character of the city, what it is known for, is shaped overwhelmingly by white bougie people.

I felt the difference immediately when I moved to Austin. Even though Austin is one of the whitest cities in Texas, I would sit on the bus and be surprised by the number of people of color. This, despite the fact that gentrification has reduced the number of black folks in the city by half over the last several years. I noticed how Chicano and Latino culture had shaped the overall culture. In the northwest, you would never look on a non-Latino restaurant menu and see Spanish words used, like queso. Queso would just be called cheese dip. I also observed racial segregation on UT’s campus in a way I never noticed on campuses in Washington. I rarely saw kids of different races socializing together, unless it was through a more lefty project, like the poc queer group on campus.

Houston, now, is a whole nother story. It, like Texas as a whole, is majority poc. I go to the Whole Foods sometimes (because there’s no discount health food stores that I know of) and am shocked when its mostly pocs in there, too! I am happy in Houston, with the huge Little India and Little Saigon right next to each other in the SW, I feel at home.

But I dont think I am used to this majority poc thing yet, in a visceral way. I still get surprised in new situations by the number of pocs.

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