It’s hard to explain to some people why I stay in the Natti. Everytime I do it kind of comes off as an abusive woman telling her family why she just can’t let go.
“You don’t see what I see… yeah, there was the Maplethorpe thing and the Ku Klux Klan on the square and the 2001 riots that happened because of 15unanswered killings by the police of unarmed black men. But it ain’t like that with me. Or it ain’t like that all the time. You have to see the good in the city like Krohn Conservatory and the Zoo. The Black Family Reunion and the Buzz. The Natti is trying, can’t you see it’s trying?”
My friends’ response?
“Weeze free now! Why are you staying in that plantation of a city when you can go anywhere else and get more? You need to shake it off, man, and move on.”
Right here is where I should insert the ill-attributed Mark Twain 20 years behind the times quote but I won’t mainly because I’m tired of hearing it mostly from proud Cincinnatians who find the dig a badge of honor. No, we aren’t ethnically diverse as many major cities and if someone ask you what school you went to they mean high school, not college. We put chili on our spaghetti and anytime a rumor is whispered about Pete Rose inducted into baseball’s hall of fame it locks up the news headlines for days. But I still think this city is one of the hidden gems that America has inspite of Bill Cunningham.
My friend, Blue, has become my Cincinnati Cheerleader and if the city knew anything they’d make him the city’s official ambassador (how can you go wrong with a gay, Filipino musician?). Born and raised here he is always pointing out the wonders of this city and telling me how much he loves it despite the fact it hasn’t always been gay and minority friendly.
“I can leave and go live elsewhere,” he said. “I have gone elsewhere but how does it help it here? I love this city and I want to stay and fight and change it.”
I said I would stay too, at least a few more years.
I believe the city is changing, slowly, but it is. Just in this past decade I’ve seen a big jump in the racial landscape. We aren’t where we were at the beginning of the decade with blacks rioting, police slowing down and gays made to feel unwelcome. I think by the time we hit 2010 and get the results back from the census many will be amazed where we stand. We will probably still be behind other cities, but not quite the Mayberry image many try to project upon us.
I heard this storythe other day on This American Life. It amazes me that some are unaware of Jerry Springer’s resume before the “Jer-ry, Jer-ry” fame. Many were even more surprised how Southwest Ohioans could entertain the idea of Springer coming back to run for public office. But I think this story explains the complexity of thought here in the Ohio valley.
That and allergies. It’s hard to think things through when you are under a Benadryl haze.