A Visitors Point of View

 I spent the last several days with my sister and my three fabulous children in Paso Robles, California.  A 3 and a half hour drive from Tracy and in those three and a half hours the California I knew and could relate to was to be no more. I am speaking strictly as a first time visitor. The California Mid-State Fair was the place I had purchased tickets to see Jeff Dunham and his puppets as a late birthday gift for my 15 year-old son. We had a blast driving down, got lost, the kids watched movies until they fell asleep as did my sister sitting next to me on the passenger side of the rent-a-car.  When I retire at 55 I want to drive around this state of California and get to know the people from a visitor’s point of view.

Driving to our destination, I began seeing signs on the freeway for I-5, L.A., Los Banos, Gilroy, 101 South, Gonzales, Atascadero and Paso Robles. I saw workers in fields picking whatever they were picking and  my mind’s eye began to imagine the history books I read in high school where slaves were picking cotton and the overseer was ever-present on his horse watching.  These workers skin was brown and their stature was small, they stood close together and worked with hats and bandana’s and tousled hair sweating and speaking their language of comfort. These were men determined to take care of their families and make a living at any cost. These are the same men who stand on street corners and in front of Home Depot and near Goodwill stores waiting for an American to drive by and offer a day job for a wage considerably less than the minimum wage.  As I continued to look as I drove I saw port-o-potties hitched to trucks so that the “staff” picking whatever they were picking can always have access to the facilities without leaving the fields. I saw small white buses that brought these brown men to this destination and waited to bring them back to their original destination. I saw pick up trucks with white men watching brown men and  me a black woman drives by.  As I drove the landscape was beautiful. The greens and the browns and the hills and the sun – all painted a canvas that comforted me and let me know in all that we see God is.

Paso Robles reminded me of days gone by.  A place where the housekeeping staff understands little English, the kitchen worker is brown, the restaurant bus boy is brown as is the cook, the dishwasher, the maintenance workers at the California Mid-State Fair were all brown and yet the girl ringing up your order is white, the manager at the restaurant is white, the waitress is white, the people with the 2-way radio’s at the California Mid-State Fair who were guides to help you around were white, the ticket collectors were either white or black and the people checking your bags were white. The people running all of the vendor booths were white and black. The young people running the rides were a mixture of black and white. Paso Robles is a place similar to my hometown in that everyone has their place and all are aware of it. No one steps over into an area where they are not expected to be and everyone appears ok with it except those who come from another city or state or county. We, outsiders/visitors see differences and our eyes speak in wide-eyed amazement at the imaginary yet clearly imbedded and defined lines of demarcation of color.  As I looked at these colored people I smiled.  The only difference that this visitor saw was in color for it was not in class. The town seemed to be equally challenged in terms of housing and jobs and living conditions. This is a place where sidewalks may or may not exist and where pig races and mutton bustin’ are just as acceptable as lines of demarcation.

Yolande Barial
Your Words Project: Speaking on Purpose
Seeks to Enrich the Lives of Women through Spoken and Written Word.




“Through her inspirational writings and spiritual poetry, Yolande Barial empowers all sisters, young and seasoned, to become on-purpose for themselves.”


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