Monday, June 15, 2015

Racial Tension

I've been thinking about the issue of race a lot lately. I think there are definitely some valid reasons for the racial tension in our country. I thought it was no problem in Louisville, but I think that's because I lived in the "east end" of town which is where all the wealthy people live. In my experience, society doesn't care as much what color your skin is, as long as you have enough money.

After moving to Raleigh, NC, however, I saw a slightly different story. Our temporary housing was on the wealthier "north end" of town, so I thought I would find the same experience. In actuality, the zip codes were more diverse, but there were pockets of low income housing all throughout the wealthier zip codes, and that's where a certain color was more predominant. Not only that, but I started noticing that all of the "service" or "labor" jobs were almost all black.

It was very disconcerting to me to walk into a Wendy's and see an all white or almost all white clientele and all black employees. In Louisville, there was much more diversity among employees. I don't know if Raleigh is just that much further south, or something specific about this city, but it does worry me. Why are the movers from the moving company and the couch deliverers and the fast food employees all of a certain color? Is there that much racism that either they can't get a white collar job or that the white college students aren't willing to work along side them?

I'm not sure what I can do to solve this problem, but I do try to go to a church that is at least partially integrated, and cares about racism. I do try to promote and acknowledge the hard work of people of every color. My in-laws had some bad experiences with their cable technicians (of all different colors) so I made sure to explain how happy we were with the technician who came to our house. He happened to be black, and had a great knowledge of the products and services and installed everything quickly and easily. I felt like when conversing with them that their dislike of their first few experiences was compounded by the color of the technicians.

I don't think it's outright racism, but it's an idea of what jobs a particular color should be associated with. Asians should be great as accountants, Hispanics should become construction workers, blacks should be in the service industry. How does this happen in a developed nation? How do some humans still see others as less than or "other" just because they have a different color? How are some people still feeling the "glass ceiling" based on their color skin rather than their qualifications? It's wrong and untrue, but sometimes I don't know how I can make a difference. I'm not sure how we can change the society we live in, except to show with our pocketbooks and our hearts that we won't stand for it anymore.

I do feel good about the diversity of the neighborhood and town I live in now. We quickly changed our minds about living in "the north end". I chose to live in Garner, the "less desirable" suburb to many people. However, the pro's are that I do see more diverse employment when I walk into a restaurant, I see diverse people in my neighborhood, and I didn't see anyone with a problem when a mostly black youth group came to our neighborhood's private pool.

There is beauty in the diversity of our great nation. We should celebrate it, not fear it.

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