It seems from the time I could make decisions about who I wanted to be, I've always been asked, "Are you from here?" From what others have said, Indy folks have a way about themselves that I must not possess. I find it odd.
Raised on the east side, I can admit to being "different". I was a little dark, held up in my room listening to music, writing poetry, and daydreaming. I thought there were others doing the same here in this place we call Naptown but I always found myself being ...different. So I wanted to leave Indy as soon as I could. My goal was to get to NYC with other daydreamers. A city of others, that's where I belonged. I didn't even get my driver's license until I was 21, unheard of here, all because I figured I wouldn't need it. Indy called me different so I wanted to go where the different people dwelled.
1991 - The Kid
At 22, I became a mother.
Nuff said. Didn't move. Now I have to live amongst the Hoosiers who have banished me to weirdo land all of my life and I have to raise a child here as well.
I stayed because I wanted my daughter to be around family and I needed my mother greatly during that time. I had to learn to deal with my city and my future. 18 years MORE years of Indy. I can do it....right?
I've accepted that I have some chip embedded in my brain somewhere that makes me a nonhoosier but I still trying to figure out my hometown, what makes this place tick.
The biggest compliant I still have about people who live here and mostly my African American folks is the complacency. Black folk in Indy are complacent and to be honest, lazy. Politically lazy and apathetic, socially lazy and apathetic. And these same people who have been born and raised here will go to another city and come back and tell you that they went to support the local musicians of Atlanta, they attended a rally in Chicago, or even can tell you what is going on with education in Detroit but won't do the same in their own city. Oh, they will complain though....
I remember talking with a woman at a women's empowerment event. I was sharing about CWUW's walking program and how she needed to come out to walk with us. She quickly responded, "Oh this is great. Indy needs this type of thing. Nothing ever goes on here. Indy really sucks." So I asked her if she went to African Fest. "No." I asked her if she went to the Italian Fest. "No." What about going to one of the poetry spots on Sunday nights? "No."
She gave me this look as if I purposely made her feel dumb. I told her, Indy actually has something going on every weekend no matter the interest. She said, "Oh....".
Not an activist, I'm just active.
In 1995, I started working in HIV. I moved me so much that I simply started working hard. My daughter was raised in the agency where I worked because I was there all the time. I believed in what I was doing. Is it that Indy folks have nothing to believe in? Is this why I look like I'm moving 100mph because they are barely moving at all?
I'm running a nonprofit for women and manage the prevention department of the largest AIDS service organization in Indiana so I am busy but at the same time, I feel I can do more.
Where I've found like minded folks has been in the music and arts arena here in Indy and they have been a breath of fresh air. They are on their grind trying to get a strong music scene happening for Indianapolis. Many are talented enough to leave and really make it but are dedicated to this city. Its an up hill battle. How do you make music for a city where there's no local radio support for local talent and you can't get people to leave their homes to support your shows and events? Their commitment is impressive.
When I started planning CWUW, I was told to move to DC or ATL. I was told I would get all the support I needed and wanted if I would just move. Why move? Indianapolis needs CWUW.
Indianapolis needs an organization that will push its buttons to do better, live better, and be better. I've found Indianapolis to be full of great potential. Its a big small town and that's how I deal with it. We still have big city problems with homicide and our broken educational system. We are still the 12th largest city in the U.S. We still have some resources at our hands and we still have dedicated and motivated people amongst the complainers.
I'll be here until I get the sign from God above that its time to move because I know one day, Naptown will sleep no more.
[be back to edit later]