Another One For Sacramento

Sometimes you have to leave home to appreciate home.   The unfortunate violence in Milwaukee last weekend reminded me of a strange night in Milwaukee a few years ago.

Milwaukee lives in the shadow of Chicago.  Much like Sacramento and San Francisco.

It was a weekend with friends ,this was my second visit to Milwaukee and on this visit I received the grand tour.  It was a great saturday, museums, the Public Market, rich German food for lunch, sightseeing. There is quite a bit going on in Milwaukee.

Dinner was at a trendy restaurant, the conversation  was lively, filled with laughter.  Suddenly, without warning  the tone changed, people started getting serious.  I was taken aback, it had been a long day but there hadn’t been any disagreements.  I looked around to see if there was drama in the restaurant.  Someone asked for the check.  Confused, I’m playing the tape in my head to see if I might have offended anyone.

The ride in the Suburban was quiet, 8  adults riding in silence.  I was first person dropped off at my hotel, there were hugs and  kisses.   Memories of the day were washed away, what happened?   Its after one and I cant sleep.  20 minutes later my phone vibrated. It was a text message, are you up?    Yes.  Can I call you….

From the call, I learned that the area wasn’t friendly to African Americans, especially after dark.   There was much debate about taking me to this restaurant, and the plan was to leave by 8.  We were there past 10.  Apparently there was some people at the table behind me staring at our tabl,e making a few people at OUR table nervous and they didn’t know if things would escalate.

A few of my friends sensed I was upset and they discussed it in detail after dropping me off. A few of us planned to meet for bunch and  at bunch there would be an explanation.  It was a combination of embarrassed and fear.   Afraid I might question who they are.

After the call, I was relieved and troubled.  Perhaps I’m naive, in my world there aren’t geographical restrictions.  Many years ago, I was lost outside of Chicago and wound up in the suburb of Cicero, I stopped at a gas station to ask directions and a black man told me not to go in and to leave this town!  I wanted to laugh (leave this town?) were in the nineties Please.  I reluctantly climbed in my rental and drove away.   The next day  my  Chicagoland friends said, Cicero was no joke for black folks!

Back in Sacramento, I went online and researched the Milwaukee’s history. Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in the nation. The division between white and black is striking.

As I said earlier, sometimes you have to leave home to appreciate home and the people there.

I love Sacramento, sometime I struggle with its image of itself . Many people who were born and raised here do not I think much of their city.   Perhaps its being a refugee from San Francisco, I see its beauty.  The people here are genuinely nice.    I love the diversity in Sacramento.  I have no desire to live in a mono community.

My experience in Milwaukee didn’t taint the city. Far too often we miss the BIG picture. I had an excellent day there.  I was pleasantly surprised by what I’ve seen and the people I met. From what I read, healing has begun in city.  But there is much to be done in Milwaukee and many others cities across the nation including Sacramento.

Sacramento isn’t perfect, city government and the police department do not reflect the community as whole and there are pockets of isms here and there, but we all seem to get along. Without hesitation I can take friends to restaurants or theaters anywhere in the area.  My friends from the mega cities are often surprised, Sacramento?  Yes!



Published by CityFella

Big city fella, Born and Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lived in New York (a part time New Yorker) for three years . I have lived in the Sacramento area since 1993. When I first moved here, I hated it. Initially found the city too conservative for my tastes. A great place to raise children however too few options for adults . The city has grown up, there is much to do here. The city suffers from low self esteem in my opinion, locals have few positive words to say about their hometown. visitors and transplants are amazed at what they find here. From, the grand old homes in Alkali Flats, and the huge trees in midtown, there are many surprises in Sacramento. Theater is alive is this area . And finally ,there is a nightlife... In.downtown midtown, for the young and not so young. My Criticism is with local government. There is a shortage of visionaries in city hall. Sacramento has long relied on the state, feds and real estate for revenue. Like many cities in America,Downtown Sacramento was the hub of activity in the area. as the population moved to the suburbs and retail followed. The city has spent millions to revive downtown. Today less than ten thousand people live downtown. No one at city hall could connect the dots. Population-Retail. Business says Sacramento is challenging and many corporations have chosen to set up operations outside the cities limits. There is vision in the burbs. Sacramento has bones, there are many good pieces here, leaders seem unable or unwilling to put those pieces together into. Rant aside, I love it here. From the trees to the rivers. But its the people here that move me. Sacramento is one of the most integrated cities in America. I find I'm welcome everywhere. The spices work in this city of nearly 500,000 and for the most part these spices blend well together. From Ukrainians to Hispanics and a sizable gay community, all the spices seem to work well here. I frequently travel and occasionally I will venture into a city with huge racial borders, where its unsafe to visit after certain hours. I haven't found it here. I cant imagine living in a community where there is one hue or one spice. I love the big trees, Temple Coffee House, the Alhambra Safeway, Zelda's Pizza, Bicyclist in Midtown, The Mother Lode Saloon, Crest Theater, and the Rivers. I could go on and I might. Sacramento is home.

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