We ask politicians to reach across the aisle and work with their constituents. But are we doing the same and reaching out to our neighbors?
I used to say I’d never move to a red state. And then I did. And it’s changed my life for the better.
In July 2016, I moved from San Diego to Terre Haute when my husband received a job opportunity at a local university. At 41 years old — at midlife — I moved from the blue, liberal left coast bubble to a rural, Midwest, Rust Belt red state.
I was raised in California, where we like to believe diversity is applauded and opportunities abound. In many ways, California’s blue state bubble can be a very safe place to live if you subscribe to the popular liberal politics.
Over and over, I was questioned about why I would ever leave the Golden State for a “flyover” red state. This phrase alone troubled me, and the implied perception that one flies over the Midwest just to get to their East or West coast home.
As I settled into life in the Midwest, I heard the same assumptive questions: “Did everyone you know vote for Donald Trump?” “Are there African-American, Jewish, Asian, LGBTQ people in Indiana?” “Do people make fun of you for listening to National Public Radio?”
Never does one ask about Indiana’s history as a blue state (Indiana cast its electoral votes blue for President Barack Obama in 2008). Never does one ask how the Indiana public schools provide many opportunities that have been cut from California’s public schools because of one budget crisis after another. Never does one ask about the low cost of living that is allowing us to pay off the mountain of debt we accrued in California. And never does one ask about my fellow community members, who are running successful businesses, enriching the city’s arts and making a difference for the local environment.
As I got to know my new Midwest home, I realize how living in a bubble and subscribing to the Middle America stereotypes is truly damaging to this country.
While it is true there are far fewer African-Americans living in Terre Haute than San Diego, that doesn’t mean the city is a bastion of racism either. In fact, very few people know the Lost Creek…