Effects of Race in My Community
The following is an autobiographical report written as the final project for my ethics class for Axia College - University of Phoenix. References to "the text" are made in relation to electronic documents provided for the class.
Ethnic diversity plays a major role in some communities, however in my community there is a quiet calm and a certain connection between the people who live near one another. The subdivision of homes in which I live is what some people would call "upper middle class," and as a result the racial demographic here is different than what one would expect - but everything we can all hope for world-wide.
My neighborhood is fairly diverse, though quite large. There are over one hundred homes in my subdivision, all built after January 2000. Driving through my neighborhood you will see people of every nationality you could imagine - however the population here is predominantly African-American families. In close proximity to my own home I took a brief survey, wherein I asked what nationality my neighbors attributed themselves to and the answers were:
- Fourteen African American families
- Two Korean-American families
- One Chinese family
- Four Hispanic-American families
- Four Caucasian Families
- Two homes owned by groups of Caucasian friends
- Three African-American single parent homes
Interpretation of Statistics
Based on these figures, I have found that at least in the polled section of my subdivision, I and my fiancé are part of the minority group within our community. Most of my neighbors look different; live somewhat differently in matters of family and religion when compared to me. To my left, my neighbor is a Sheriff, and African-American. Across the street, a Mexican-American family lives in relative quiet except for their Sunday parties.
I have found that the people in my neighborhood look different from me, but then again many people share that assessment. As a mid-twenties Swedish-American with neon pink hair and numerous piercings, I stand apart from those in my suburban neighborhood when compared based on looks alone. So, while I am surrounded by people of other cultural and racial backgrounds, and while I look very different, I still feel quite at home.
One of the biggest concerns I have with my community is that there does not seem to be a widespread network of communication between different parts of the subdivision. One large portion of my subdivision is rented out as low-income housing, and it may be that this part of the community has a bond of their own, though there is not a lot of activity shared between the homeowners and the renters in the area. In my immediate area there is a small group who keep contact with one another, and this group is composed of most of the people who live within a few minute's walk of my home. The Sheriff who lives to my left is a very community driven individual, and organizes upkeep and fellowship between the people who live around him and his own family.
My fiancé, my best friend and I are the youngest people living on our street. As a result of this, our neighbors initially treated us with a patronizing manner. In matters of racial differences, there are mannerisms which are different between members of my household and our African-American and Mexican-American neighbors, but on the whole our relationship with these individuals has been smooth and based on respect and kindness rather than given over to any shifts of attitude due to being different racially.
It seems to me that our neighborhood operates mostly in an introverted way, members of the community basically keeping to themselves in peace and quiet. If I had to point at any one individual in my neighborhood and claim that they are a leader in this community, it would be the Sheriff. He does his best to assist the people who live around him, whether the assistance needed is a watchful eye kept on a particular home while the owner goes on vacation out of town, or the lending of lawn equipment, he does whatever he can to make the neighborhood as a whole run more smoothly. This general willingness to help, this neighborly behavior and generosity, gives the neighborhood a harmonious feeling which completely disregards racial issues.
Racial Representation within the Community
As I previously stated, my community seems to operate in a very introverted fashion. As a community, we are interested in keeping ourselves safe, our streets clean and our homes secure. Racial issues such as discrimination and segregation do not affect my community as they may affect others, a fact which is displayed in every interaction I have had with my neighbors. We respect one another as individuals, and if there are any concerns regarding racial matters, they have not touched the overall happiness of my community.
Primarily due to the lack of community-wide communication and interaction, there is no real community leader. The closest my community comes to having a leader is the Sheriff, who treats everyone equally. He and I are alike in that we both care deeply for the wellbeing of our community and our families. Also, we work hard to provide for our families to ensure that all of our needs are met.
My Community in Media
My first experience with my neighborhood involved a search for the community via internet search engines. In so doing, I found the community property management was provided by a group called Cedar Management Group, who boasts that my subdivision is filled with homes that are unlike one another, yet provide a "good home feeling." (Cedar Management Group, 2008).
In a broader sense of the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, people like me - twenty-something and middle income - are hardly represented in anything other than spotlights on volunteerism or crime. Especially in the present, where concerns of local, state and federal elections loom, representation for people who are in my age and racial subcategory is provided mostly by those within these subcategories through social networking sites such as Myspace.com or Facebook.
Perhaps one of the most influential changes in the face of racial issues in my neighborhood was the news on July 4, 2008 that former Senator Jesse Helms had passed away. Mr. Helms was an active figure in attempts to continue segregation and racially biased decisions. In a report by the Associated Press, the former Senator was quoted numerous times making disparaging comments or presenting television media regarding minorities and homosexuals.
The most devastating news regarding my community is the news of numerous foreclosures in the subdivision. One of the companies that built homes in my neighborhood sold its homes to individuals and families who could not afford the loans and costs associated with their purchase, and as a result there are more people who, like me, rent their homes rather than owning them. This is not, however, a racial issue, but more a sign of monetary irresponsibility.
Solutions to Community Issues
Though my neighborhood is populated by people from many races and experiences, the one problem we have as a unit is communication. I believe that if we communicated more with one another in an active fashion, we could save ourselves from being victims of decline such as other neighborhoods in the city. I believe the most effective solution for this problem would be simply to hold community gatherings that began perhaps once monthly, and allow the community to meet before moving on to incorporate humanitarian or community based projects into our lives.
My community relates to the text presented in this class in that it shows the diversity of the people around me, and that even though I may not know them personally, they are worth knowing not because of their race but because in many ways they are not different from me. I took away from this course a broader understanding of my community, and a desire to know more about the people I live near to find out how close their lives are to the information presented in our resource text.