Flying In Your Face
1805-1807 E. Missouri Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
Thursday August 28, 2003
The search took several days, but eventually she found an ad in the Arizona Republic that sounded interesting. She gave her mother a ring.
"I've found an apartment that sounds suitable. I'd like to check it out. Can you drive me there?"
She had lived in the same apartment for several years, and wouldn't have been moving if the rent hadn't been raised above her means by the new landlord.
"I'll pick you up in an hour," her mother responded.
She was one of five siblings in their close-knit family. Although they and their mother lead very independent personal lives, they were always there for each other when the chips were down, no doubt a product of growing up an outcast in their own land.
Her mother pulled into the driveway. Already waiting outside the door, she jumped into the car.
"Oh, I like your hair! Did you do it yourself?"
It was substantially longer than the last time she had seen her mother, braided for about four inches and then done up in a French roll.
"I did it myself -- over the weekend," her mother responded, "You seem bright today!"
She beamed as they pulled away from the house.
It was a short trip to the middle class neighborhood in central Phoenix, and shortly they pulled up in front of a trim looking complex. A man appearing to be in his sixties stood on the lawn waiting. They stepped out of the car and flashed tandem smiles toward him. Their faces were as bright as the Arizona sunshine reflecting from their deep ebony complexions.
He responded without returning the smiles.
"I'm Charlie. Come on in; I'll show you around."
He lead the pair into a one bedroom apartment second from the end, next to the management office. As they went from room to room, he pointed out various features of the apartment. Mother and daughter followed, discussing their impressions quietly between themselves. Toward the end of the tour it started.
"Every time we rent to blacks, whites don't want to rent from us," he mumbled out loud.
"I said, when we rent a unit to blacks we have trouble renting the other units to whites."
Mother and daughter glanced at each other in shock, mouths gaping as they stepped back into the living room. He continued in the same mumbling tone.
"Back in the day, I used to manage apartments in California. I rented an apartment to a couple of black people and whites wouldn't rent from us; so then I rented only to blacks. That was in the old days before they crossed the line; back in the days when everything used to be separate. I know it's against the law nowadays, but I rented an apartment to a black man and he stayed ten years. Then I rented another one to a black woman, and you can imagine what happened with that! So I've seen enough."
"Are you kidding?" the daughter asked in indignation.
There was no response.
"Well, are you going to rent it to us, or not?"
"I guess not," he said quite clearly.
The Ugly American had spoken. The women turned and left.
August 28, 2003
1Embassy Apartments is not affiliated with the following fine Phoenix businesses: Embassy Properties, Embassy Suites, Embassy Suites Hotels, The Embassy.
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Larry K. Fox
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