Travelling in Boise
February 18, 2004 5:37 PM   Subscribe

Okay, I'm leaving for Boise, Idaho (driving) tomorrow and I'd really like to know from people who live there or have been there if it really is as hazardous to black men who travel there as the stories all seem to go. Should I be scared? I'm already planning not to go anywhere without an escort.

Just by the way, I don't mean to offend any Idahoans, but I'm really curious the reputation you have there is totally unjustified.
posted by Slimemonster to Travel & Transportation around Boise, ID (10 answers total)
I live just down the road in Salt Lake City, and I've never heard any rumors on that regard. Now, understand that I'm your average caucasian, so maybe I wouldn't hear those rumors...

That said, folks in the West tend to be a little wary of strangers (period), and that wariness can get a little heated under the influence of alcohol... so I wouldn't suggest going to bars by yourself — or with a group of folks similarly "different" ; ) — but, sadly, that would be the case if you were a member of a number of different groups, and not just because you're black.
posted by silusGROK at 5:57 PM on February 18, 2004

I don't know about Boise proper, but during my time in the fairly rural Idaho panhandle as a kid, I was the target of quite a lot of racially-motivated derision from townsfolk. It never came to violence or even harassment, but a lot of epithets were muttered. It being a couple of decades later now, I couldn't really guess if things are better or worse.
posted by majick at 6:26 PM on February 18, 2004

(What's remarkable about it is that I'm part Filipino -- just enough to give me a slight darkening of the skin and dark hair -- but around the Bay Area most people assume I'm just Random White Dude.)
posted by majick at 6:28 PM on February 18, 2004

My parents live in Boise. I'll ask them. I've been there and it seems odd that this would be a problem. If Boise is some sort of racist enclave I'd be very interested in knowing.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:26 PM on February 19, 2004

Slimemonster -- Nothing much to add, except I thought this map might be of some use.

I've only been to Idaho 3 times. I'm white. No real expertise. I know some people from Idaho and they aren't noticeably racist. It's hard to say. Have fun in Boise!
posted by Hildago at 8:51 PM on February 19, 2004

Well, back in the 70s and 80s Idaho -- especially the panhandle -- was involuntarily selected as a future possible "White Homeland" by various white supremacist groups, particularly the notorious Aryan Nations who hosted well-publicized (by their hated enemy, the liberal media) supremacist events on a large compound. Fortunately, especially in the wake of the bankruptcy of the Aryan Nations in the wake of a lawsuit by some folks they harassed, this trend has subsided, and locals are fighting to reclaim their reputation. Idaho has also changed due to the arrival of various Hollywood sorts in the wake of Bruce Willis. Personally, I suspect that most Idahoans are little different from the rest of the country, especially the rest of the West. And Boise, by comparison with the rest of Idaho, must be positively cosmopolitan. ;-)
posted by dhartung at 9:08 PM on February 19, 2004

Personally, I suspect that most Idahoans are little different from the rest of the country, especially the rest of the West.

I grew up in southern Idaho in the late 50s-early 60s. Demographically, t was very white. The most substantial minorities were Mexican and Nisei.

I did not see a black person in the flesh until I was 12 and that was at the local swimming pool. He came by himself, nobody there knew him, he had no problem getting in the pool and no one was rude to him and nobody really gawked at him. To tell you the truth, nobody really talked to him either but that was as much from shyness as anything else. It was a very novel experience for all concerned.

In the early 60s, a black man from out of town could go swimming by himself at the local public pool in a small southern Idaho town and have no one say boo to him about it. I think that should tell you something.

Boise is not San Francisco but it's not that far, culturally speaking, from, say, Missoula or Spokane. Believe it or not, there are black people who live there year round.
posted by y2karl at 10:31 PM on February 19, 2004

for what it's worth....... My parents report back that they've talked to a few black men in Boise about this issue and they'd reported it isn't much of a problem. "Boise seems to me to be a very tolerant place in the midst of a very right wing, conservative state."
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:59 AM on February 20, 2004

My sister used it to live just outside Boise, and from what I heard from her, I would agree with y6y6y6.
posted by notme at 10:43 AM on February 20, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks a lot guys. I just got back and i had only the minorest of troubles with people from Boise. I find it very easy to believe, though, that Boise is very different than the state at large.
posted by Slimemonster at 4:13 PM on February 22, 2004

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