Thursday, September 8, 2011

What divides a community?

Most communities throughout the United States have residents that are similar in certain aspect: they are in the same economic standing, they all have families, or it’s a community specifically for young couples who are just starting out. All of these attributes create specific boundaries between these communities and ones surrounding it, but on big aspect that can delineate boundaries between communities is race and ethnicity.

Although it’s not the most pleasant topic, race and ethnicity can separate a community from another. In most situations, including Winter Park, there are two specific communities of White people and African Americans. We see this all over the U.S. with cities becoming famous just because it is notably an African American community, such as Harlem, NY. In Winter Park, Hannibal Square is where the White population ends and the African American population begins. Even in Boca Raton, FL one can see delineation of communities because of race. East Boca is an upper class White community where people own condos on the beach and drive Bentleys. Once you drive into West Boca however, the houses become much smaller and the cars become much older. West Boca is known for being mostly African Americans living there; even the schools aren’t considered as good as the ones in East Boca.

However, it isn’t all just black and white, there are other races and ethnicities that dominate certain communities. There are Chinatowns in New York, Chicago, even Washington D.C. Not only is the socio-economic status lower in these areas, but the culture and atmosphere is completely different as well. There are shop and street signs written in Chinese; there are Chinese markets and restaurants. These are communities that are completely dominated be a specific peoples and that creates and defines major boundaries with their neighboring communities. China is not the only other country represented in American communities, there is a Little Saigon in California, a Little Moscow in Brighton Beach and a Little Cuba in Miami.

Races and ethnicities from all over the world are represented in communities all over the United States. Each of these communities establishes their own culture, reputation and set of rules to be followed by its residents. These very specific areas are huge factors in what outlines boundaries between communities. There is one problem however; these communities to the people who live outside of them are referred as places where only low economic status households reside. People call them “ghettos” and stray clear from these thriving communities. And because of this is becomes harder for these communities to received funding for local parks, schools etc. just because they have a certain reputation. It’s never fair, we see that in Winter Park today, but slowly these communities are trying to change that. The Hannibal Square Heritage Center and the new Community Rec Center are a few big changes that are helping the community become more equal with its neighbor on the other side of the tracks. That doesn’t mean that any of these other communities should follow suit, but there should be a mutual respect between communities no matter what boundaries dived them.

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