Diversity of Small Towns

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Final Project: Race and your Community
HEATHER KYZER
ETH 125- Cultural Diversity
June Sunday 19, 2011
LaToria Brent

Final Project: Race and your Community
I am from a small Bible belt town called Reform. Reform was named after a preacher refused to return until the townspeople reformed their ways (Ashcraft, 2011). I lived in this town from the time my mom brought me home from the hospital until I graduated high school and went to college. Reform is a town that history forgot about. Reform is still segregated meaning the white people live on one side of the street and black people live on the other side. Everyone looks different, because all people look different. I will say one thing that when grouped together the white people look the same and the black people look the same. The best way to describe Reform is picture the town from the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” where the whistle-stop café was located. As of July 2009 population was 1759 which is down 11.6% since 2000. It is made up of 58.3% being white and 41.7% black (wikipedia). I remember as long as I lived there the black people had their places and the whites had their places to go and do things. When I was a teenager we would all go to the “pit” which was an old rock pit. We go up there and hang out and have a good time. I never really knew of any of the black kid’s hangouts. When growing up in this town you were raised not to mix. I knew that if I was caught in a vehicle or in some close presence with a black person my dad would go insane. He is a German head strong man. It was just not kosher in Reform for race mixing. Reform did not offer a whole lot for entertainment for anyone. I remember on weekend and during the summer swimming, roller blading, playing pool in the basement of a friend’s house, walking in the woods, and just sitting under my grandmother’s mamosa tree in her backyard. I will say that I did get my love for taking photographs here in Reform. Reform is full of old buildings, cemeteries, and beautiful country side. I have always loved history and there are several old cemeteries and old wood framed churches along the country side of Reform I loved taking pictures and looking at the dates on the markers. I will say that even though Reform had its faults and I wanted out, but when you go on an adventure like I did taking pictures you forget those problems in town. The leaders within my town treated people that were of money and integrity with better respect than if you did not have these two traits. They would treat a white person and their needs better than the black people. I remember a time when a storm came through and damaged the cemeteries and the town, board members meet and paid for the main cemetery to be cleaned up, but since the other cemetery was by the black church; and town refused at first to clean it up as they did with the other one. After several months of arguing, petitioning, and boycotting the town made the choice to clean the cemetery up (Ashcraft, 2011). Reform has had the same mayor for several years now. His name is Frank Criswell. He is served by ten board members. He and the board members are all very wealthy people. Reform is about one thing and that is money and the ironic thing is the town is broke. I actually called the city hall to ask for a sit down discussion with Mr. Criswell and he refused. In my opinion, if you do not have the money to compete with some of the big wig families such as the Simpson’s, the Austell’s, the Criswell’s, and the Keasler’s then you really do not matter. I was very shocked to notice that there has still been a black person on the board. I feel sorry for people that are still living there, especially the black people. I did get to sit down with one of the oldest members of the town last week and we talked about a lot of things. I learned so much from him about this town that makes me glad I just left. Mr. Langdon will turn 102 this August....
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