I have been working in Santa Barbara for the past three weeks. And during my stay here, I learned about the two Santa Barbaras.
Santa Barbara is a city that operates at a much slower pace than its southern neighbor Los Angeles. In Santa Barbara, people drive 25 miles per hour, or slower, on the narrow streets. Everything is usually located within a five mile – or so – radius.
But within this small, slow city, exist two different worlds. One of the middle class and upper class white residents, who mostly inhabit the western side of the city, and the darker skinned mostly-Hispanic residents of the East.
My host with whom I am staying informed me, to her regret, that it has been this way every since she moved here in the 1960s.
State street, with its upscale shops and theaters, is the purview of the white residents. Milpas street, with taco restaurants and auto shops, is where much of the Hispanic residents are. I witnessed this first hand in frequenting both areas.
But I also found it completely baffling when driving through the State street area, and seeing young Hispanic kids and their parents emerging from a public school and going to the park on the block. At the same time, a young white woman was exiting her car and going to yoga. The two worlds were coinciding. But neither interacted with each other or even acknowledged one another.
Truly a tale of two cities.