Monday, July 17, 2006

Not even on the map

Our Urban Experience (UE) program started today (see the link at right for more info). I had asked several of the teenagers that I've known for a while to help me out. I had asked them to be on a panel and talk about some of their experiences at school and such. They always amaze me with their wisdom and insight.

In the packet I gave each UE participant, I had included a map of the city, provided by our local tourism office. When it came time for Lewanna to talk about her neighborhood, she pointed out that the map we had passed out didn't have Southwest Center Mall on it--the mall in her neighborhood (a mall known to be in a predominantly Black neighborhood and frequented by Black customers). She questioned the neglect of putting the mall on the tourism map, yet the city claims that the mall isn't frequented and needs to be torn down. She wondered aloud how a mall could attract customers without any kind of publicity.

It was interesting to hear her musings. I hadn't even looked at the map. I had, however, noticed the same thing when I was in Atlanta last year. Their tourist map had four days worth of sight-seeing options listed in the margin; yet, though Atlanta was one of the hubs of the Civil Rights movement, and though Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Ebenezer Baptist Church and his birthplace is there, nothing related to Martin Luther King, Jr. or the Civil Rights movement was listed as something worth seeing.

When people are left out, they notice. If we're perceptive enough, we'll notice, too.
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