“Saudi Aurora” is an offensive dis of my hometown that I’d completely forgotten about. I heard it all the time growing up from relatives who lived in more remote suburbs of Denver than the one where my parents bought a brand new house in 1978. They still live in that house, and those same relatives are still dissing Aurora.
I heard it again from one of those relatives on Christmas day, just last week. It kind of jolted me. He’s a police officer. Last month he participated in a training exercise at my old middle school. Recounting the exercise over apple pie provided the occasion for the disparaging moniker.
He elaborated on it: Aurora is full of crime. Cops want to work there for the challenge of it.
That’s not the Aurora I remember, and it’s not the impression I get of it when I visit. “Saudi Aurora” exposes a distance between my youth and my adulthood that is more than geographic.
I have a sympathetic reflex toward protests of police brutality. I’m horrified by the stories of Eric Garner and Laquan McDonald and Tamir Rice and Philando Castille and all the other mounting incidents of mostly unarmed African American men being shot by police. My instinct is outrage. When football players kneel during the national anthem to bring attention to the problem, I’m encouraged, not offended.
That’s me: a politically progressive 41 year old white guy.
That’s not where I’m from, though. Where I’m from shines a blue porch light in support of the police. Where I’m from is the police. Where I’m from was perilously close to a horrifying attack on police officers just days after offending me over Christmas pie. Where I’m from wore the same uniform as the deputy who died in that attack. Where I’m from sees things and risks things I have the luxury of reading about later.
Where you’re from shapes where you go even long after you’ve left it.