Someone at old Oral tried to ridicule me for being poor this week, so I wrote this column. Tell all your friends.
Somewhere between the midtown bourgeoisie and the street where I saw a prostitute for the first time sits a little grey house. I paid rent for the first time there.
This little in-between may be the perfect portrait of a new America, complete with the growing dichotomy between the rich and the poor –those who’ve made it, and those who may never get the chance.
According to various studies, the United States does not allow the economic mobility that many people expect it to, and I saw that first hand at the little house on Quincy.
In the daytime, I’d seen a man driving a van while drinking a beer, families walking together, arguing, joggers with their dogs, entrepreneurs trying to take a leap into success and cyclists galore.
At night, I saw a man twirl fire in his backyard, individuals under some influence making their ways home to sleep, cars I could never afford, the homeless huddled under an overpass and weekenders stumbling into Whataburger for a midnight meal.
I could see people just trying to make it. It’s probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
Even in the thick of insanity, there was something wonderful about it all. I could take my bicycle a few blocks to Cherry Street, and see these two separate worlds colliding in a gorgeous fashion. The folks from both sides of the economic line could be seen riding bike trails, drinking coffee, buying things from Golden Pawn II, eating at the area restaurants and walking in and out of the local bars.
Even though there were times that it seemed obvious that the people around me all came from very different backgrounds, they lived so close to one another. One was just as human as the other.
All of the beauty and wonder I found in the situation, the things I saw, fell apart. Even though these two groups were so close, intermingled, they were so removed from one another. There was little interaction between the two.
It’s sad, devastating even.
In a place as American and free as Oklahoma, people are still judged by their economic statuses. Class separation is real, and I’ve seen it. I’ve read it. I’ve heard it. (Insert other senses here). It’s even at ORU (collective gasp).
Personally, I would think that a land christened the “Bible Belt” would be a little more open to class difference. I think that sort of thing is biblical. I’m no theology major though.
I mean, we’re all jam-packed together, fighting through life one way or another, so who gave us the right to deny another person any hospitality or love because of the number of zeroes (or lack thereof) at the end of his or her bank statement?
Of course, there are many great examples of people that walk the short bridge between the wealthy and the rest of us. Human beings reach out, communicate, love and care. I hope anyone reading this would fall in that very category.
I’m not arguing communism or gentrification or anything. It’s just something to think about. We’re in this together. We can do better.
We shouldn’t walk two blocks and raise our noses at the other people at “MacDonald’s” because they seem richer or poorer than we see fit. We’re still all eating MacDonald’s. For the record, I love MacDonald’s.