08/18/2009 2 Comments
Many tourists who pass through Maine have many a positive thing to say about the state: it’s quiet, relaxed, isolated, wooded and just very rural. One other thing that may strike most visitors, especially those from the suburbs and the city, is the fact there isn’t much diversity there. True, there’s the occasional Native American reservation, but that’s about it. Even in the bigger cities and smaller suburbs, there lies an overwhelming amount of Caucasian natives. In my lifetime, I have only seen very few blacks, Hispanics, Asians and ecetera from the state of Maine.
Though this is probably irrelevant, I sometimes can’t help but to wonder why? Why are there so few ethnicities that live there? I asked my mother, and she once told me it was due in part to the extremely cold weather. If that was so, then why are there many different ethnicities–especially African Americans and/or black people living in Michigan? Another time I had asked her, she responded that it could also have something to do with the jacked up education. If that were the case, wouldn’t most Southern schools–states even–have white students? I don’t know why I find this to be fascinating, but I do.
Surprisingly, many Somalian refugees have fled to the Mainer cities of Lewiston, Auburn and Portland, increasing the number of blacks/African Americans in the state to a grand total of only about 1,300. This, coming from Eastern Massachusetts where there is a large number of different ethnicites, strikes me as odd, and also a bit sad. Due to this factor, Maine has been hailed as the whitest state in the United States.
The whole question of whether or not most Mainers are brought up and taught to be racist is quite questionable. On one hand, there was a crazy old man who had made local papers by announcing–and threatening–that he would shoot any black people that came to the churches meetings and that he had a .75 caliber at his home; and the many rumors of a once KKK influence in the state itself. One the other hand, Assata Sherill, a black female resident of Maine—once a victim and survivor of racial prejudice due to having rocks thrown at her at her by whites in the area—thinks of Maine as being ” ‘insular’ ” versus being ” ‘racist’.” The question itself still remains: Why is Maine so diversity-challenged as a state? Sadly, like many unsolved mysteries, it may never be answered…
To read more about the story of the crazy older man and more about the NAACP in Northern Maine, click on this link: