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Race and your Community - Research Paper Example

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Growing up white in Atlanta, Georgia meant living in the kind of proximity to blacks that inspires clichs about 'knowing the negro.' When I left for college in Vermont, most of the students were from all-white suburbs and small-towns in the Northeast, especially New England…
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Download file to see previous pages My childhood memories of 'ghettos' like the one we passed through were also from car-windows, except in youth soccer games my brother and I played with mostly white kids on a large manicured field, while nearby, black kids our age played pickup games of American Football in the street.1 Sports are a divide. During a PTA meeting at my high school, one example of segregation was sporting events. The school Football team was all black, the Soccer team almost all white, and crowds in attendance reflected this. It was a tense moment; in a region with not-so-distant memories of the Civil Rights Movement, self-segregation is an uncomfortable topic.
Gunnar Myrdal pointed out, "That 'all negroes are alike' and should be treated in the same way is still insisted upon by many whites, . None of the Jim Crow legislation distinguishes between classes of Negroes."2 But class always existed in the black community, and in Atlanta no one can pretend there are no distinctions. Tensions within the black community often overshadow white-black divides, although, drawn on a dark-light skin divide, they are colored by overarching realities of white supremacy.
Atlanta was the one city in the Deep South to integrate peacefully, but integration triggered white flight. "Affluent whites moved to the northern suburbs to live at a distance from the city's blacks, whom segregation had concentrated in the near south side," which borders the edges of the Antebellum Black Belt, so named for the color of its soil and its people.3 Until the 1990s, the city's population declined while, amidst red-clay hills and pine forests that had been cracker country of moon shining and the Ku Klux Klan, Sun Belt suburbs and exurbs of gated communities and strip malls sprung up. These were the homes of the suburban 'angry white men' who propelled local congressman Newt Gingrich to power in 1994, believers in cheap real estate, low taxes and the need to avoid the black inner city of Atlanta during off-work hours. My Atlanta was far-removed, and hostile to, this suburban milieu. My neighborhood, Inman Park, was majority-white, but also proudly liberal and 'inner-city,' a 1890s streetcar suburb abandoned by the rich and middle-classes for more suburban neighborhoods, a veritable slum before being discovered by 'urban pioneers' in the 1970s. It gentrified with the rise of the local shopping district of Little 5 Points as the bohemian enclave of the Southeast.
My families house is a white-columned mansion reminiscent of Gone With the Wind, modeled after the nearby Candler Mansion of Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler, an estate built not by cotton, but by sugar-water. True to clich, my brother and I were raised by our black housekeeper, Cathy Davis, and spent time in her neighborhood, in the black suburbs of southwest DeKalb County. Driving past the high school, the kids shouting 'white boy,' I remember feeling hurt. But I hurt others: one time I, playing with Cathy's son Nolan, I used the word 'colored,' which I had heard in a TV docudrama about young Martin Luther King. Cathy scolded me, 'We all human beings. God doesn't change the color of our skin.' Coming of age in the South is learning the color line.
Bordering my neighborhood is Little 5, interracial, counter-cultural haven of drug dealers, con men, queers, hippies, punks, Rastas, street-musicians, bums and starry-eyed suburban teens. The other sides of the tracks, literally, are the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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