For the last few years it seems that every time I check the news or turn on the TV there is a story about some protest someplace about something or other. Sometimes it is that the police are being too aggressive while other times it is that they are being too lenient. Its protests regarding women’s rights, racial rights, immigrant rights and many other reasons. It seems that everyone else is protesting something.
I grew up in an a relatively small conservative baptist town in Eastern Kansas. This is the place where the railroad tracks were literally the dividing line between socioeconomic classes. When I grew up being in a bi-racial relationship caused waves of gossip. I never really understood why. It was the ’60s and the “make love not war” generation was only real on the news.
One of the things that I really like about markets is that politics, race, gender, sexual orientation, immigrant status and nationality just doesn’t matter. At markets people are people. They aren’t segmented into groups. Even in a work environment we rarely really get to see people for who they are.
At one market that we go to, this is particularly true. Houston (where we are) was recently determined to be the most diverse city in America. However, this doesn’t mean that all of Houston is that diverse. At this particular market, that the true diversity of Houston is experienced first hand.
One of my biggest lessons learned is to not depend on conclusions simply by seeing someone. Yes, I know that people always say not to judge a book by its cover, but we all do it anyways. At one market, a young bald gentleman totally covered in tattoos walked into my tent. He had “gang member” written all over him. Well he might have, but I can’t read gang tattoos. Turns out that he was a very nice young man and we chatted for quite a while. My initial impression of him was completely wrong.
Selling at a market and being part of the vendor community has exposed me to people that I otherwise would not have met. It has helped me to understand their individual concerns and that what I would consider my way of living is not the same for everyone.
If any of this reads political or racist or sexist then I wrote it wrong. It wasn’t intended to be. It is to show how exposure to other people and cultures have expanded my life in general.
We all come from somewhere and have experienced wildly different things in our lives. Life is not about the destination but about the journey. Meeting all these different people at markets is a key part of my journey and I hope it is for you too.