Things we wish someone would have told us before w
As a military brat, I have lived all over the world in all kinds of different climates and cultures. My finance and I relocated to Winchester to attend the local university. Our move was dependent upon us securing a place to live. Four months before we planned to move, we flew up, stayed for a week, and explored. We found a place that was in our budget range and in a location we thought would be best for our lifestyles - we're both professional musicians (opera and jazz). While driving across the country to set up our new home - from Texas - our realtor called us to tell us the house was leased to someone else. Our realtor was working with another company and no one had ever mentioned that anyone else was interested in the home. We didn't think anything of it at the time and figured we would just give it the old college try and find a new place. We are an interracial couple - Puerto Rican(f) and White(m). Although we had excellent references, credit history - on both sides, and were prepared and lined up with work - we just had to find a place to live first - it took over a month for us to find anyone who would be willing to rent/lease to us...and we moved during a time of year when the market was full of listings. The comments that were reoccurring were that we "weren't the same color" and that "we don't get a lot of your kind around here". We didn't think a whole lot of it because the comments didn't come from everyone we met; however, the longer we were looking for a home, the more we began to notice trends in behaviors and the way people treated us. One real estate agent, who only had email and phone conversations, could not seem to hide her shock and appall when we showed up to view one of her listings. On the phone, she was very friendly, openly shared information about the "multiple" listing she was trying to fill, was willing to answer my questions, etc. The listing she met us at was a brand new row-house. When we showed up, she was adjusting a sign in the front yard. She gaped at us from the time before we exited our vehicle until we began to approach her. When we got into the house - it was beautiful and in a nice neighborhood with a nice-sized yard - she left us to tour; however, after we walked through the house and came to ask her questions, she told us the home was no longer available but that she could "take you to a place where I think you may be more comfortable". The listing she took us to next was in a rundown neighborhood, literally had plexiglass windows, a crumbling back deck, and was in need of general repair and had plumbing and heating issues. She would not answer any of our questions then...other than to say "this is the only other listing I have that would suit you two". We wouldn't have lived there if someone else had paid the rent. My fiance and I looked at, literally, 283 listings...we still have the listings we never heard back from. We could not find anyone who was willing to give us a home; almost all took an application fee, but never cashed the checks and never returned our phone calls. Finally we found a pastor and his wife who were out-of-state and felt we would make good renters. We found a really wonderful Thai restaurant downtown on the walking mall (Loudoun) and decided to go for lunch. When we came in, we noticed people staring, but didn't pay it much mind...even when the conversations stopped and silence ensued. When we sat down and ordered, an older White woman from across the patio, threw down her food and said to her companion, "I will not eat at a place that serves n!&&%#$ lovers" (she also used the n-word as she was exiting by wheeling herself out of the restaurant). These are not the only stories my fiance and I have. We have been in Winchester for just over 2 years now. I have been followed home by White men hollering vile things from their Confederate flag-covered pickup truck. Not a week goes by where I don't hear the n-word. We get called names in WalMart whenever we go together. People have left their carts in the isles and walked out of the store when they see us. I have seen burning crosses less than 5 miles where we live. We have been told on numerous occasions, "The people of Winchester are actively still fighting the Civil War and there's not much that can be done about that". We wanted to find a church, only to be told that "what you two are is an abomination to the Lord and you should be ashamed for bringing your sin into His house". The woman who said these things dissolved into mutterings about "race mixing" being an "abomination to the Lord". My fiance has been called a "White devil". Walking around Winchester is like having a live-viewing of every stereotype one would think only existed in movies. Most of the minorities in town live in the lower-class/rundown neighborhoods on the "other side" of the railroad tracks and seem to only be found in menial jobs. We have yet to see a person of color in any position of authority in any place other than the ethnic-owned businesses. Hispanics are majorly located in one area of town. People are not friendly - more often than not, they are rude and generally disrespectful; most will not speak...even when they are spoken to. There is an over-abundance of racial bumper stickers. Way too many of the locals use racial slurs as part of their conversation. I have walked into stores and been ignored, only for my fiance to walk in separate of me and get friendly service. Don't get me wrong, the scenery in Winchester is incredible. It truly is Small Town, America. However...it's a bit like stepping back into the past...the WAY past. If you are a person of color accustomed to being treated like a person and not a skin color, Winchester is not a comfortable place in which to live.