Thursday, September 07, 2006

What are we afraid of?

Maybe I'm crazy (some people I'm sure would vehemently agree!), but I can't understand the reason people fear low-income neighborhoods so much.

Yesterday a man came by our office in Turner Courts to deliver a mail bag to one of the organizations in the office. As he was leaving he half-jokingly mentioned that the guy who was delivering before him told them he deserved hazard pay for having to deliver into that area (Turner Courts).

He chuckled.

I gave him a half-hearted smile and told him, "We're actually pretty nice people."

What is it that makes people scared just by driving into the neighborhood?

I know that, statistically, crime is higher in Turner Courts and other low-income neighborhoods. However, that doesn't mean bullets are flying 24-7. In fact, the majority of times "outsiders" are typically around (usually during the 9-5 day), there isn't much activity.

I've been told that people "hanging out" makes them uncomfortable. Would it make them uncomfortable if there were a bunch of White people "hanging out?" I tend to think the answer would be no. And in my experience, I have never seen or heard the people who are hanging out plotting to attack the first person who drives through.

Some say it's the trash...or the run-down buildings. I've never known trash or run-down buildings to be scary. Depressing...yes. A lack of pride in their surroundings...probably.

Just so you don't think I'm completely oblivious to what's around me, please note that I am aware of the crime and stupid acts that go on. But I also know drive into and walk through Turner Courts every day without incident.

My point is that I believe society has contributed to creating an unhealthy fear of certain neighborhoods--primarily those where the majority of people are darker and poorer. Maybe if were less afraid of people and neighborhoods and actually got to know them, we all could create a different reality.

Our fears create our realities.
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