When Where You’re From Matters

<br />

“I don’t date people from *Insert School/City/Neighborhood*.” That’s something I hear a lot and I’ve been hearing it for a long time. I grew up on the west siiiiiide of Detroit and I can’t tell you how often I heard generalized disparaging comments about Detroiters who lived on the east side and vice versa. The general stereotype was that west siders were stuck up and east siders were ghetto. In middle school, I had a male friend who lived on the east side of Detroit. He wasn’t a boyfriend, he really was just a friend. (Also, the male friend had a GORGEOUS older brother who I needed to make aware of my existence.) I knew my father would not drop me off at some boy’s house, so I told him that I wanted to go to a female friend’s house (a friend he knew of) and that her sister would pick me up from our house. My father said no based strictly on the east side address. He also classified my female friend as a “fast girl,” but he let me visit “fast girls” on our side of town all the time.

Anyway, being the slick little 12/13 year old I was, I figured out a way to get there and have my father believe I was somewhere else. I boasted about my plans to some friends and they were basically shocked and appalled that I would go to the east side with no “back-up” and no weapon. They told me awful stories about west side girls getting raped, beaten and shot for being on the wrong side of town. They said east side boys were all jail bound thugs. They also told me that all east side girls liked to fight and that I was going to be flung around by my ponytail. Pretty frightening stuff actually, but even then I knew that the whole east side/west side thing was silly. I went over there anyway (though with studs instead of hoop earrings for fear of a torn earlobe if a fight did go down).

I got over to his house and I was immediately greeted/confronted by my friend’s sister who must have been about 15 years old. She was on the front porch sitting in a chair with her feet propped up on a railing and a comb sticking out of her wild mass of hair.

“You that little west side girl my brother like?”

My heart was beating very fast. I wished I had worn my hair up. I wished I had taken that throwing star (my friend’s brother was a Bruce Lee fan). I wished I had practiced my jab. I wished I had told my cousin not to drive off so fast.

Thankfully, my male friend came out of the house before I had to answer. Though I’m sure the pure fear in my eyes let his sister know that she had won that round.

“Don’t mind her. She just mad because she’s in trouble and can’t leave the porch. She beat up some girl in school again.”

Don’t you just hate it when people fulfill every negative stereotype about them? Well, the rest of my visit went without incident. The cute older brother wasn’t even there and the sister managed to sneak off the porch and hang with her friends down the street. When I got home, I told my friends a slightly more colorful story about how I stared down my friend’s sister and all her friends. Ummm, perhaps I threw in something about teaching them a dance step or two and how they wanted me to come back and do their hair. The ending was the same though! Nothing violent happened. And as far as I know that young man has never been a thug and has never been to jail.

I went on to have friends and boyfriends who lived on the east side. No biggie. But even to this day, you still have people in Detroit who feel some type of way about anybody who lives on the other side of town. The same line of thinking goes for dating too. I have friends who won’t date Morehouse men/Spelman ladies because “they are all stuck up.” I have friends who live in Detroit who won’t date people from Detroit because “none of them have themselves together.” 

What gives? Are there any geographic or educational characteristics that would make you turn someone down flat? Have you ever met someone who fit his/her stereotype  so well that it was down right comical? Do tell!

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Tamika September 28, 2009, 9:38 pm

    I can definitely identify with your story. I grew up on the west side of Detroit until the end of my 8th grade year. I did NOT want to move to the east side for the exact reasons you mentioned. However, the 2 months that I spent in an east side school turned out to be great. I went to Cass Tech, I’m an AKA with dark skin, and I’m a northerner living in a southern state… so, you can imagine the stereotypes I’ve had to deal with. At any rate, I learned a long time ago to stop generalizing, because people will surprise you every time.

  • dainaesse September 28, 2009, 10:00 pm

    This is unfortunately too true.
    I’ve done the same when it comes to guys from any city/state.
    When a relationship didn’t go a certain way, all guys that are from that same city did not even get a chance.
    It’s really sad, now that I hear how ridiculous it sounds.

  • Eric October 1, 2009, 8:24 am

    I’m from Detroit and what you speak is the truth. But the same way West Siders look at East Siders, Everyone outside of Detroit looks at all Detroiters the same. So it seems stupid to shun one another when people look at us all in the same pot.