Unrest. After watching the news, I understand why people are angry and carrying signs that Black Lives Matter. EVERY life matters. I get that. But it makes me wonder if I published BAD HABITS at the wrong time.
In my mystery, Lux Millhouse has been best friends with Gabbie Johnson, a black girl, for a long time and visited her home often. So many times, that when Gabbie and her three older brothers pack up to leave Chicago and move to Summit City to start businesses, Lux moves, too. Lux came from rich parents, who died soon after she starts her career as a newspaper reporter. The accident takes them so suddenly, Lux wants to sell everything and start over someplace else. And she invests in the Johnson brothers’ businesses.
More, she’s known Gabbie’s older brother, Keon–a chef–for so long that it surprises her to realize that she doesn’t think of him as a big brother. She’s attracted to him and wants more.
I really wanted Lux, who’s rich and white, falling for Keon, who’s black and fell for her a long time ago, to be no big deal. In my mind, it ISN’T anything major. When my HH and I got married and moved into our home, we picked a small community that had been swallowed up by the city. Our neighbors were nice. Everyone kept up their properties. So it came as a shock to learn that our little town had once been a stronghold of the KKK. But times change, and when the KKK wanted to march down our street, people shrugged and said, “So what? Let them, but we don’t want to see them.” And when no one got riled up and didn’t care much, they canceled their march.
When our daughters started school, race wasn’t much of an issue either. And our middle class neighbors shrugged when daughters came home to introduce their parents to their black or Hispanic boyfriends. “Is he nice? Will he be good to you?” were the big questions. Mind you, I don’t know how this happened. I don’t know when it became no big deal to the people we knew. All I know is that we all had to work hard to pay our bills, and we knew those people were working hard to pay their bills, so we were all trying to make ends meet together.
When our daughter graduated from cosmetology school and came home to introduce her boyfriend, a black chef, to us, his family had a lot more money than we did. We were middle class. They were upper middle class. And Jason cooked the most wonderful anniversary dinner for us I’ve ever had in my life, and we liked him. He and my daughter didn’t make it, but it wasn’t because of race. It had a lot more to do with temperaments, but to this day, we still like him. So does our daughter. They just should never live together.
Anyway, this is a roundabout way to say that I wanted to show a rich, white girl with a black chef and it is NO BIG DEAL. They’re two people who are right for each other. But right now, things have gotten so sensitive, I hope people see it that way. That’s how we lived it. That’s how some of our neighbors lived it. And I hope, someday, that becomes the norm. Maybe we got lucky. Or maybe it’s because we were all middle class. I don’t know. But it’s time it just doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter in BAD HABITS. And that’s how I wanted it to be.