After reading Derek Fisher’s “race card” response to an Indy black woman’s opinion about Carmel, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth, and I felt the need to offer a different point of view.
Ms. Smith did not throw down the race card. What she did was highlight the lack of diversity in Carmel. Well, she’s right, and it’s something my six year old observed in her Carmel kindergarten class as she was the only “brown-skinned” girl there. Carmel lacks diversity – it’s a statistical fact. While walkability might be important to one person, diversity is important to Ms. Smith, and that is okay.
I also don’t see any exaggeration in her observations about how cities find their identities. Some cities have an organic feel about them because they were built by people from all over the world who infused their culture into the city with every brick that was laid. On the other hand, Carmel’s development in the last few decades has been very deliberate, but that’s okay, too.
What’s not okay is to twist this very mild opinion piece into a race-based rant. But since you brought it up, let’s talk about race for a moment. I’ve got to tell you, I bristle every time someone says, “Slavery was abolished a long time ago! Get over it, black people!” Yes, slavery ended 147 years ago, but equal rights as we know them today were still being fought for in the 1960s. The law didn’t catapult black Americans to equal status overnight.
I think it’s important to take a closer look at recent history. Carmel had a population boom in the 1970s when Indianapolis began busing to desegregate the schools. Carmel went from 1,442 in 1960 to 18,272 by 1980. This phenomenon is also referred to as “white flight.” Add to it the fact that Carmel’s building ordinances filter out low-income housing, and the fact that 38 percent of black Americans live in poverty, and people start joking about how many Carmel police it takes to pull over a minority.
I don’t bring this up to condemn Carmel, and I also didn’t bring it up to make white people feel guilty for the deeds of the past. Slavery built on an invented racial inferiority caused a deep wound in this country, and it’s going to take a lot to heal it. Black Americans are still trying to catch up. Being critical about how long it’s taking and confusing symptoms of poverty with race is certainly not helping the cause. It’s time we stop talking about “us” and “them” and start talking about “we.” Everyone, put down your race cards. It was a false alarm.