Living in Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas is a very diverse city in which people of all races and religions reside. Within this paper I will include information on how members of my community relate to me. I will discuss information about how members of my community look, how they treat others and our local media representation. I will also include similarities and differences of people in leadership positions within my community and how minority groups are reflected as a result. Overall, I will reflect how African-Americans are looked at and treated as a minority group.
Living in Houston, Texas
According to the United States Census Bureau as of 2010 there were approximately 2,099,451 people residing in Houston, Texas. At least twenty three percent (23%) of the residents are Black (U.S. Census, 2011). Due to this reason, members of my community look like me but most do not. As an African-American (Black), I am see people in my community that are also African-American but I also see people who are Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian and Indian. So many cultures have migrated to Houston over time and now it’s reflective in our community leaders. The City Council members of Houston consist of sixteen members. Fifty percent of the council members are of a minority group (Council Members of Houston, 2012). Houston’s Mayor Annise D. Parker is a second generation Houstonian. She is also a proud lesbian and has been with her life partner for twenty years (Mayor’s Biography, 2012). Houston even has an African-American congress-woman, Shelia Jackson Lee a Democrat (U.S. Congresswoman, n.d.). From experience in my community most of the leaders try to be fair but can discriminate towards issues according to their personal preference. Mayor Annise Parker has known to be very supportive of gay/lesbian rights in the Houston Area. While Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee has know to be supportive of African-American causes. Therefore, generally I believe they treat others like me as fairly as possible. I am not sure if the same can be said about other members of my community in other minority groups. Due to the diversity in Houston there is a division in which people treat each other differently. The division comes in an array of sections; wealth, race and residence location. The wealthy tend to look down upon or pay little attention to those in a challenging financial position. It just seems as though the wealthy can afford to do different things than those who are financially challenged. Being Black in Houston can be a complicated situation because Houston is such a large city it is not only divided by race but inner territories. Blacks that are like me from my community can be welcoming and friendly while if I just go to the other side of town some may not even speak. Blacks in my community tend to be more welcoming of other races and people who are different as we clearly under cultural diversity in our area. When thinking about text and work manuals within my community they do not isolate Blacks. Blacks speak English therefore there is really no need for street signs to be posted in different languages. At work, I believe employees stress equal opportunity so much that the information in manuals are general. It may reflect religion or dress code in a manner to maintain consistency in the workplace. I have been in a position in which I’ve noticed that Blacks are not promoted as much as other races. At one point the room was filled with 75% of Blacks in a call-center and even employees with more experience on the job were not given the promotion. Situations like this cause me to believe that discrimination is still alive and in a strong way. Discrimination within the workplace affects a person income and overall livelihood. It appears that Blacks are always in distress about financial situations and the media reflects upon it enormously. In Houston, it seems as though the media reflects more negative information about Blacks than positive. In our community media outlets such as television, newspapers and radio tend to reflect violent crimes committed by Blacks and poverty type issues rather than reflect most of the successes in which some Blacks may complete in the area. Our local radio station 97.9 The Box tries to cover all news and reflect things in the community that are positive. In my community it appears all too familiar when the news comes on you hear about a crime committed by a Black person on some side of town or even the surrounding suburban areas. There are many Blacks in the community doing positive things even former football players that contribute to annual child events that build character and support education but those are things the media may skim over. Mayor Annise Parker stated that “Crime is down across the board and we are going to work to make sure it stays down” and I want the same outcome (Houston’s Murder Rate Hits Historic Low in 2011). Blacks are not the only racial group committing crimes but watching the news in my community that is what you would come to believe. From this I can see how other racial groups could become skeptical of Blacks in general. Mayor Annise Parkers comment allows me to wonder more about how crime has decreased in our community. In my opinion I think I can relate to some of the people in leadership positions within my community. Many people in leadership positions within Houston are Democrat as am I. Looking at just the City Council of Houston majority of them are in a minority racial group again as am I. Those are the primary things I think we have in common although when it comes down to the important issues and how to go about solving them I believe each group takes a different approach. Some of the City Council Members I had never heard of before but while doing research discovered the areas in which they covered and what they actually do for the city. I think it’s rather difficult for minority groups not to be represented in my community. It may not always be in a positive light but we are reflected. There are even some areas of town referred to as “China Town” or “Little Mexico” generalizing the minority groups that have migrated to a particular area of town. Solving inequities within my community would be such an enormous task to embark upon. Minorities, especially Blacks still feel discriminated upon. Within my community I always hear of racial profiling with police and Blacks being pulled over and I think that is one of the things I would change first. In my opinion I honestly believe the police are to “protect and serve” not “discriminate and assume”. I would try to establish a program in which police officers are looked at in regards to the type of persons in which they pull over, arrest or issue tickets too. This could be a program in which the information is provided during an individual’s annual review. I believe at this time enough information would be gathered to make an accurate observation of their arrest patterns. Another problem here in Houston would be government assistance programs. I have seen second hand from going with friends or family members how ill-treated you are when applying for housing, food stamps or medical assistance. The workers lack efficiency, general manners and are misinformed. I have been a witness to extended wait times, inappropriate questioning and denials based on being a few dollars above the limit. I have even heard stories where families have fell on hard times and really needed assistance but were denied. Here I would look at re-training employees in an effort to provide everyone with the most accurate information available, ways of being empathetic to the client and tending to more clients daily. I don’t think that just because a Houstonian or any person is in need of assistance they should be mistreated. There is a long list of things I could do to help improve the city but these are the places I would start. I believe that these changes would allow a Houstonian to feel safer within the community. More so Blacks would trust authority more as that trust has been lost through the history and struggle Blacks have endured.
In conclusion, Blacks have made much progression since the time of slavery. Although there are still problems such as discrimination and inequality I feel that the Black Americans who have overcome obstacles and received continued education are in a better position to fight for change within our community. Blacks are a good racial group overall and I believe that with change things will improve. Local Black Community Leaders do what they can to improve the negative impressions within our community. In my opinion if Blacks seen more positive things on television they would be more acceptable to follow those type of individuals. I believe that Mayor Annise Parker and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee are doing a great job improving the community and bringing recognition to the areas that need attention.
United States Census Bureau: Houston, Texas Quick Facts (2011). Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/48/4835000.html
City of Houston. Council Members of Houston (2012). Retrieved from http://www.houstontx.gov/council/index.html
City of Houston. Mayor’s Biography. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.houstontx.gov/mayor/bio.html
U.S. Congresswoman. Shelia Jackson Lee Biography. (n.d). Retrieved from http://jacksonlee.house.gov/Biography/
City of Houston. Houston’s Murder Rate Hits Historic Low in 2011. (2011) Retrieved from http://www.houstontx.gov/mayor/press/20120104.html