Growing up in a predominantly white affluent town altered my views on the world, specifically racism’s presence in America. In communities like my hometown, children aren’t shown the harsh truths of racism other kids in this country experience. Without the encouragement of public figures to call attention to these issues, communities like mine will continue to be negligent.
I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts called Marblehead. With a population of 20,784 people, the 4.4 sq mile town is very densely populated. Despite having surrounding cities with higher diversity levels, Marblehead is about 95.6% white, with the other percent being splint between Black and Hispanic. (wicked local) With the racial diversity being so low, community members can get away with not having to worry about discriminatory violence or violent racist actions.
My childhood and my friends’ childhoods were very sheltered from these truths. Being from a small town, we walked a lot after school. That was how we hung out if we didn’t go to someone’s house. My brother and I used to have nerf gun fights around our neighborhood all the time and never thought once that we were in danger. On the opposing end, people never thought we were dangerous; we were just kids playing around. However, in other communities, minority kids have been shot. Many times, police officers saw a Black child holding a Beebee gun and shot him, thinking he was dangerous. This type of community shows within our police log. Killings, shootings, and seriously scary and dangerous violence doesn’t happen in Marblehead.
Having these situations show up in a police log can alter a person’s mindset. I honestly never felt danger growing up as a kid. No kid should have to worry about whether they are in trouble; however, with the country’s systemic racism, that is the reality.
Marblehead has two churches and one temple. The two churches are located at the two most popular places in Marblehead, old town and downtown. They are surrounded by shops which bring more attention to the enormous buildings. Growing up, all my friends went to church on Sunday, including my family. The majority of Marblehead is Christian, Catholic, which is a branch of Christianity or Jewish. Being taught to listen and believe what the Bible says to be right and wrong taught me to contribute to America’s racialized society. With the level of support Christianity shows for racism through intertwining since the beginning of America, it continues the cycle of white, affluent communities ignoring society’s actual problem.
Living in a predominantly white town, all aspects of a person’s life will reflect that, including town sports. Since I was young, every town team I played on was white. So growing up, I wasn’t around many people besides White Americans. Although other towns and other groups had diversity, my village did not. Despite this, my cousins, friends, brother, and I weren’t raised with racist beliefs. Although I was exposed to large amounts of diversity in my everyday life, I was taught how to treat everyone. I believe this is how many Marblehead people are raised. However, we weren’t taught about the inequality still present.
Due to us not having to worry about the everyday struggle of inequality that minority groups have to deal with, we could ignore it. For many people, a natural reaction is if I don’t acknowledge it, it’s not there. That is what my town and similar communities have done and still do. Educating and exposing children and young adults to the actual problems will help change happen because children are the country’s future. Neglecting the issue because it doesn’t affect you daily is still making you part of the problem.
I believe that public figures like Donald Trump, who outright deny the exact issues in our society, continue to encourage communities like Marblehead to be negligent to the problems. White, affluent communities need to help be part of the solution by educating themselves on these truths and helping minorities fight for change. Using your white privilege to produce positive change. Young adults and teenagers in communities like Marblehead could be the game changers in this long fight against inequality.
Gerardo Martí says
A good glimpse at your town and the feeling of safety and comfort. And such a strong line here when you wrote, “if I don’t acknowledge it, it’s not there.”