I came to California in the Fall of 2016. Its been a year and a half now since I moved to Sacramento to teach. The thoughts of my life growing up in the south are memories locked away in the treasure chest of my mind.
I haven’t been back to Louisiana since I moved here. I haven’t seen any of my immediate family since I boarded that plane in New Orleans during the summer of 2016.
My life has changed drastically since I moved here. I am no longer teaching. I work an engineering job for a contracting company, and I live in a different area of the city than I did when I first moved here.
I love California, and I never want to leave this state. I truly feel like I fit in get perfectly
I want to write this story different. I will give a brief explanation on why I’m not teaching and then compare and contrast the elements of living in California as a black man that seem to be different than living in the south.
Let’s get on with it………
I had a beautiful job teaching at an alternative school. My classes were filled with 16-18 year old minority kids whom I could easily connect with. I was paid extra for longer days but I didn’t have the stress of a typical teacher. There were no lesson plans for me to do on weekends and I only had two classes a day.
Well…. The principal decided to step down from his position, and the coordinator of the alternative schools in the district promised the principal a job at my school.
The school I worked at had only 5 teachers on staff and I was the last one hired. Everyone else had been working there for at least 5 years. You can guess how that worked out for me.
The district had no other positions available that would coincide with my credential. I couldn’t do the credential program without a teaching job.
I decided to do aid work for an elementary school in the district and hopefully after a year a position would open up. It was hell. I was paid pennies to deal with a demographic that I’ve always had a hard time with. Little kids.
I hated that job. I had a disdain for children and I wasn’t good at it. I cussed at a child who was misbehaving and being rude to a substitute teacher. A child lied to her mother and said I threw their homework away. I dealt with a lot.
One day, I went to the district headquarters and I quit without telling anyone. I decided to drive uber until I could find something else to do. after a month, I received an offer from my current job.
Now on to other aspects in California…
Everything in California is expensive compared to the south. The average house here may cost between 4-500k meanwhile houses in the south are typically around 180-200k. when I left Louisiana, gas was around 1.95$ a gallon for the low grade. Low grade gas in California is over 3.00$ a gallon.
Baton Rouge averages 65 inches of rain a year. That’s 5 inches a month. Do you want to guess how much rain Sacramento averages in a year? 18 inches and there’s been a drought here so its been less than that.
The weather here is consistent. You know what you’re getting. There’s complete sunshine for 9 months of the year and rain in the winter months. Temperatures in the summer get up to 110 degrees with relatively low humidity. There are no thunderstorms in Sacramento. There can just be weeks of rain.
I experienced my first earth quake in San Francisco. I woke up to a brief jolt at 3am that woke everyone in my hostel up. That was scary.
People and culture:
Sacramento is the 4th most diverse city in the country according to wallethub. As a kid coming from Baton Rouge, I’ve never been around anything like this. I typically saw the country as black people and white people. Before I moved here, I had never seen a pacific islander in person, a Seik with a turbon on, or Punjabi. There isn’t a big Latino population in Louisiana yet so this was one of the first times that I lived in area with a lot of them.
In Louisiana, the Arab and Asian populations owned corner stores, shoe stores, restaurants and chicken shacks. Out here, I see the same but I also see them struggling like other minorities in this country.
The diversity here brings a cool impact on the overall culture of the city. There are different types of restaurants, festivals, religions and styles that you see amongst the people.
This won’t mean much to some people but it means a lot to me. Growing up in Louisiana, the segregation was real. There is a strong sense of who we are as far as cultural identity goes. HBCUs down south play a big role in our cultural identity. Southern states tend to have larger black middle classes and we have a general understanding of what it truly means to be black in America.
I don’t get that here in Sacramento. Oakland is the black hub in California and some of the people I’ve talked to here are terrified of Oakland. I’ve been to Oakland and I think its a cool place.
In other conversations about race and black people in California many people seem to be nonchalant. They don’t want to think on such matters because their coworkers, friends, family, etc are white, Asian, Latino, Indian etc.
Finally, I’ve met black people here who openly deny their blackness. Thats something that I hate. I think its great to have a diverse group of friends to learn and grow with, but no black person should ever forget the realities of being black in this country.
Even though I don’t feel that closeness of the black community like I did down south, there are some black people who I’ve met here that do recognize their black identity. They don’t shy away from racism or what it means to be black in America. These are the people that I’ve tried to place myself around
One of my favorite things about California is that there are more progressive people here than I’ve ever been around. Organizations that are available for me to join that I could only dream of joining in Baton Rouge. Bernie Sanders supporters are everywhere. I just feel like California is energized and Californians can be the catalyst for political change around the country. Ive had tons of discussions with people about political issues and it seems like I’m in the right place.
I haven’t seen a confederate flag, or heard the phrase dumb liberal since I got here. I haven’t talked to anyone trumpeting states rights. Everyone here hates Donald Trump, and people here are very sympathetic to immigrants . I think living in California is important to my own political development.
Religion in California is different too. Growing up down south, I could drive from my house to my friend’s house twenty minutes down the road and pass by 10-12 churches. Many people are religious but I am not.
I’ve seen more Buddhist temples, Hindu, and mosque in Sacramento than I’ve seen churches. I know there are more churches here but I don’t go looking for them. After the first year, California just doesn’t seem like a place obsessed with religion. This makes me feel comfortable. I never felt comfortable being a black agnostic/ black atheist in the south. People acted like there’s something wrong with me and they can be really condescending at times. I’d rather not be around it.
The looks of the people:
The people in California are beautiful. I don’t know what it is but I have never been around people this beautiful in the south.
The women here are gorgeous. They might not have those thick curving coke bottle shapes like you can always find in the south but their faces are unmatched.
People here in California are obsessed with being skinny. Its had an impact on how I view my own figure.
I’m the smallest man in my family, and I’ve heard comments about “blowing away in the wind” or ” don’t lose any more weight”.
Even at 190 pounds, I’ve always had a belly. In Louisiana I never cared about this. In California, I do. I may be obsessing over slimming down even more here. Its seems crazy.
People down south seem bigger and taller. In college, I felt so short just under 5’11. It seemed like every guy was about 6’2. When I moved to Sac, I began to realize why 5’10 is an average height. Different ethnicities bring different sizes and I’m all for it.
The last section.
I notice when I got here that I was saying excuse me to people and they weren’t saying it all. I was referring to older people as sir and ma’am while other young people don’t do the same. I used Ms. and Mr. but it seems like everyone is on a first name basis.
People down south love to dress in their Sunday’s best while people in California are a lot more casual.
Shockingly, I think people in California are nicer. People in Louisiana seemed more on edge. They were like ticking time bombs. Angry and ready to explode on anything. People here seem really chill.
In closing. I love California and I think I overall fit in better here. I’m still new so my eyes are open to learn. So far so good. I haven’t wrote a story in a while. I’m going to be more dedicated though.